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I have a lovely recipe (for stir-fried tofu) that uses arrowroot as its thickener. This is easy to use, and adds a nice subtle flavour of its own to the dish. However, I am now living somewhere where I can't find any - what would you recommend as an alternative? The flavours of the dish are quite delicate, and it is fried at a quite high heat.

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You mention that it's fried at a high heat -- is it safe to assume that the tofu is coated in arrowroot, fried, then finished in the sauce? – Joe Jul 12 '10 at 14:09
No, the tofu is marinaded and fried, and the arrowroot is in the sauce, which is then added to the wok and fried until it thickens (half a minute or so). – Joel in Gö Jul 12 '10 at 20:29
Your profile says you are in Germany. Just yesterday, I stumbled over a product by Rintaura marketed as a sauce thickening product (don't remember the name exactly, something like Fix-binder) which appears to consist of 100% organic arrowroot starch. Bigger supermarkets often carry Rinatura products, I found this in a Kaufland. – rumtscho Feb 17 '11 at 16:19
@rumtscho - thanks, that's perfect! And I like that arrowroot is evidently called Pfeilwurzel (literally: "arrow root") :) – Joel in Gö Feb 18 '11 at 14:35
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Corn starch (aka cornflour) will usually work and is more readily available, but it won't work well for acidic sauces, where you'll want to use tapioca starch. (aka. cassava flour; if all you can find is tapioca in granule form, grind it up first).

For a more thorough list of starch based thickeners and their alternatives, see Cook's Thesaurus: Thickeners

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Yup, +1 for tapioca, far better than corn or potato starch for recipes that ask for arrowroot. If they already specify arrowroot, they probably do so for a reason (otherwise they'd just ask for corn starch!) – Aaronut Jul 12 '10 at 16:20
Thanks, that sounds like a great tip. I'll try it out :) – Joel in Gö Jul 12 '10 at 20:30

you should be able to use potato starch (or corn starch) as an alternative thickener. Although these will cause the sauce to become cloudy, rather than the clear of arrowroot.

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