Preparing Homemade Hoisin Sauce

hoisin sauce traditionally served with roast duck/Peking duck
Copyright: jackf

A very sweet tangy and spicy, reddish-brown sauce prepared from soy beans, garlic, various hot peppers and a variety of spices. Most types use wheat flour and sugar so it is not gluten free. It is a table condiment and used as a flavouring for meat, poultry and shellfish dishes. Try as a glaze, stir fry sauce and dipping sauce.

The sauce originates in northern China. It is often used in Szechwan, Cantonese and Beijing cooking. In Mandarin, it is called tianmian jiang where it means ‘sweet white paste’ and in Cantonese it means ‘sea fresh sauce’. There is no seafood anywhere used in it so where the name came from is still a mystery.

 It is bought in cans and bottles from most Asian food stores.  

Manufactured sauces have a slightly more floury starchy texture compared to homemade. Thickening agents such as starch are often needed for these types of products and they alter the flavour impact somewhat. Rice wine offers a gentle alcoholic note but brandy and cognac can also be added. The French took this sauce and did just that to make it richer. You might also add plum sauce and puree, and additional chilli peppers

Canned hoisin sauce is used throughout South-East Asia where it figures greatly in Vietnamese cooking as well. Bottled hoisin is better because it stores well in the refrigerator whereas the canned version is stored in a plastic airtight containers once it is opened.

A pound of meat and vegetables will usually require a 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce for full coating. The best marinade is for ribs, duck and chicken meat. Peking duck dishes really love this sauce.

Preparation time: 5 minutes; Cooking time: 3 minutes; Total time; 8 minutes.  The serving size is 1 tablespoon and provides 8 servings.

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  1. To a small saucepan, add and mix the ingredients but not the corn starch.
  2. Heat on a low-medium heat until the molasses and peanut butter have mixed and dissolved in.
  3. To a small bowl or wine glass, mix the corn starch with about 1½ teaspoon of cold water. Stir until a suspension is created but will probably not fully dissolve.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the cornstarch stirring vigorously to fully mix in. Use a wooden spoon or whisk but avoid metal spoons please.
  5. Simmer for a couple of minutes so that the mixture starts thickening.
  6. Take off the saucepan and allow to cool. It will continue its thickening as you leave it.
  7. You can either use immediately for barbecue, marinading meat, as a stir-fry sauce or just for dipping.
  8. Any sauce can be stored in an air-tight glass jar or plastic jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks but no more for health and safety reasons. It will get thicker on cooling so the sauce needs stirring before use.
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