Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Big Hoisin Sauce Challenge

I can't stand the hoisin style sauces sold in the major supermarkets.  They always have too much filler, like water or veg and never taste the same as the one at the Chinese restaurants. 

The other day I made the Chinese restaurant classic Duck with hoisin, which is traditional in our house on Christmas Eve, but I had an off season craving for it.  

I am normally faced with two problems when I try to make this dish; firstly I can never source the pancakes  - even in Chinese/Asian supermarkets.  They always have those rice paper discs normally associated with Vietnamese spring rolls, but these don't do the job.  Is it too much to ask?  Secondly, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, commercially bought hoisin never tastes the same.  I have a theory; I think that there is an agreement between the restaurants and retailers that they will not stock any of the good stuff in order to discourage domestic cooks from attempting to create it.  Or maybe not.  Whatever the reason is, I'm taking a stand and boycotting the commercial hoisin and making my own.  I don't care how many attempts it takes to get it right!

A quick search using my friend Mr Google brought up an interesting recipe for Hoisin; I have adapted it slightly because it was to thin.  If you are OK with thin, just add less bean paste.    

This sauce is great with anything, not just Duck.  I will be using it with my Lentil, Prawn and courgette stir fry tonight and might even use on the base of my pizza tomorrow.

Adapted from Celnet Recipes
400 grams bean paste (or re fried beans or any can of beans - just bear in mind, to get a smooth sauce you will need to pulse and strain through a sieve which takes forever!)  
8 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp black treacle
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic puree
4 tsp sesame oil
Pinch black pepper

Pulse all of the ingredients for a couple of minutes and taste.  If you want it sweeter add more honey, saltier more soy. 

I put the sauce on roast duck and wrapped in a cabbage leaf. 

I also ate this AL fresco.  Yay, fluke hot weather in April!

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