When we think of thickeners, classic French cooking comes to mind with a mixture called roux. Roux involves butter and flour. The butter is melted and the flour added to the butter and then cooked until the flour loses its pasty taste. This roux is then added to soups and sauces to thicken them. Roux is a large component in Country Gravy, and Alfredo Sauce. And alongside veal stock, it is the backbone of Classic French Cuisine
It’s not so surprising that there is more than one kind of thickener in the world. Arrowroot, cornstarch, tapioca starch, potato starch, kudzo, and others can be used in various ways to thicken sauces, soups, and other mixes. Arrowroot is my favorite. It is flavorless and gives a glossy sheen to a soup or sauce.
Arrowroot is indigenous to the Tropical Americas, and was a staple food of the Arawak People. It is high in calcium, carbohydrates, and potassium, but not protein, or vitamins. It is not considered a replacement food in the United States, unlike other cultures, where it has been used for people with sensitive digestive systems, and as baby food.
Transforming the diet from animal to plant base, understanding what ingredients to use is important. Arrowroot can replace that fattening and pesky roux. 1 tsp of arrowroot equals 1 tbsp of flour. It needs to be mixed with cold water into what is called a slurry, before adding it to a hot liquid. I’ve used it in soups and tamari based sauces. It is the base for my White Gravy recipe.
It is possible to explore the other thickeners as well, I just haven’t branched out yet. The only time I used potato starch was when I experimented with making paper (messier than cooking if you can believe that!). As I learn and read more, it will probably show up in some of the Kitchen Shaman Recipes.
So go ahead and try out this great ingredient. Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially in the kitchen!