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Hoisin Sauce, Featured Ingredient

by Sharon Goldberg

Sauces, Seasonings, and Spices

Fall Volume: 1994 Issue: 1(1) pages: 16 to 17

From the moment my waiter artistically painted my pancake with a rich, dark sauce using a brush made of a scallion and I tasted its robust unique flavor, I knew this would be my favorite Chinese sauce.

Hoisin sauce originated centuries ago in or near Beijing (Peking). This was the government seat of China, an intellectual and cultural center inhabited by aristocrats and royalty. It was natural that some of the most imaginative and elegant dishes would be created there, many using this delicious sauce.

Hoisin is a rich and smooth sauce with a spicy 'tang' and sweet robust flavor. It is usually made from ground beans, garlic, soy flour, various spices, and sugar. It has a consistency similar to ketchup, though slightly thicker. Its color, usually dark brown, varies from brand to brand, its taste not replaced by another ingredient. While there are numerous varieties in both Chinese grocery stores and supermarkets, each with a slightly varied flavor, choosing one is a matter of personal taste.

Hoisin sauce is used in Chinese cooking both as a condiment and an ingredient in many dishes including Peking Duck, Mu Shu Pork and Mandarin Duck. It also can add a unique flavor to many American dishes. Personal favorites include using it in my barbecue sauce and as a marinade for meat and poultry.

Be sure after opening to refrigerate the leftover sauce; it can keep for months. If purchased canned, transfer the sauce to a clean jar before you refrigerate it.

There are many recipes that use this sauce. Here is one from our test kitchen. Try it and other recipes with this wonderful sauce. I predict you'll like the sauce as much as I do, maybe more!

Spare Ribs with Hoisin Sauce
2 pounds spare ribs
8 slices of ginger root, shredded
2 scallion stalks
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 teaspoon soy sauce
4 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
1. Line a 9 x 11 inch cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Cut spare ribs into three, four or five rib sections.
3. In a large bowl, combine ginger, scallions, sugar, five-spice powder, soy and hoisin sauce.
4. Dip spare rib sections in sauce mixture and arrange them in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Cover them and put them in the refrigerator for twelve or more hours, and turn the spare ribs two or three times so the marinade is evenly redistributed.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Bake ribs for half hour then turn them over and bake another half hour.
3. Cut ribs into individual pieces and serve.
Note: This recipe can serve ten as appetizer, and six as main course

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