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Duck Sauce [split from east- and west- coast Chinese-American food thread]

Pan Jan 3, 2007 01:59 PM

Yeah, I remember "duck sauce." Where the hell did that come from, anyway?

For the record, I grew up in New York in the 70s and have never had a pupu platter.

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  1. macca RE: Pan Jan 3, 2007 02:15 PM

    I wonder if the pu pu platter is more of a new england thing? I grew up in the Boston area in the 60's- and it was all about pu pu platters- with some chow mein, fried rice and egg fu yung to rouund out the dinner!! I did not eat "real" chinese food until my early 20's. WEnt to Hong Kong, and did not have another pu pu platter for years. Though I do admit, if I could find a place that made the egg fu yung from my youth, I would be there!

    10 Replies
    1. re: macca
      MSK RE: macca Jan 4, 2007 05:59 AM

      I grew up in NY in the 70's. There was Saucy Susan and Day Dai or Dai Day and yes....it was like an apricot/pineapple/peach sauce that you dipped the fried noodles or egg rolls in.

      I then went to Boston in the 80's to have Pu Pu platters and Scorpions at Aku Aku on Comm Ave. I'm lucky I didn't have a car to drive after those scorpions. Remember the fish in the bar?

      Now I'm in N. CA and i think it's correct to call it Chutney. Here they give you Sweet and Sour sauce to dip your spring rolls in but it's not the same.

      1. re: MSK
        laylag RE: MSK Jan 5, 2007 01:43 PM

        Oh MSK - thanks for the memory of Aku Aku pu pu platters ... I was in Boston in the in the 80's too. Is it still there? I remember though that the Scorpion Bowls were better/more potent at Hong Kong in Cambridge but maybe that's because I don't remember any pu pu platter or food being eaten (at least by me and my friends) at the Hong Kong.

        1. re: laylag
          Bob W RE: laylag Jan 5, 2007 04:53 PM

          ahh, nothing like "going bowling" at the Hong Kong. Food, what food? 8>D

        2. re: MSK
          Mad Hatter RE: MSK Jun 20, 2009 07:08 AM

          I remember "Dai-Day" sparerib sauce, in fact, my Mom has the recipe and makes the rib sauce quite often! Saucy Susan, and I can still remember the jar, was another favorite condement around our home in NY in the 1960's.

        3. re: macca
          free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: macca Jan 4, 2007 07:07 AM

          Pu Pu platters were very 60s. I was partial to the flaming pu pu platters.

          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
            Melanie Wong RE: free sample addict aka Tracy L Jan 6, 2007 10:47 PM

            Here's a weird one, found a new restaurant in Fremont, CA, that describes itself as authentic and nouvelle Szechuan and Mandarin. It has a pupu platter -

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              rworange RE: Melanie Wong Jan 6, 2007 11:39 PM

              But there's no rumaki on it ... so it doesn't count.

              Weird formatting for me on this thread.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Mad Hatter RE: Melanie Wong Jun 20, 2009 07:09 AM

                Nothing was as weird as when I ordered Chineese take-out in the Fall River, MA. area, and I received a piece of Italian bread with my order!

                1. re: Mad Hatter
                  macca RE: Mad Hatter Jun 20, 2009 12:17 PM

                  Lots of chinese take outs in MA serve the bread with the order! And it is "pu pu platter" types of places that do that. The Italians in the Boston area call them "spukie rolls". When I was a kid, my mom and dad would go out on a Sat night, and come home with take out Chinese. My dad would wake me up( around 2 am), I would have some egg foo yung and a roll, and back to bed.!

            2. re: macca
              LindaWhit RE: macca Jan 6, 2007 10:36 PM

              No, I grew up in northern NJ, and I had pu-pu platters there as well.

            3. ChowFun_derek RE: Pan Jan 3, 2007 03:05 PM

              Duck Sauce can be purchased in NY and environs as..."Saucy Susan" (it is like a preserve of peach and/or apricot...)
              I can't find it here in S.F. and Gold's version is a pale substitute...

              I also never had a Pupu platter....that was more Polynesian/Trader Vic style...

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChowFun_derek
                Melanie Wong RE: ChowFun_derek Jan 3, 2007 08:08 PM

                Actually I saw "duck sauce" on the shelf in Albertson's in Salinas today. I think it was by Chung King or La Choy.

              2. c
                ClaireWalter RE: Pan Jan 4, 2007 01:01 AM

                I was told that duck sauce was created to serve WITH duck, and that shrimp with lobster sauce referred to a sauce that is usually served WITH lobster, not a sauce made OF lobster. I can't remember who told me that, but it makes sense.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ClaireWalter
                  jonnybee RE: ClaireWalter Jan 5, 2007 05:32 AM

                  You are definitely correct regarding the lobster sauce. Though often "lobster sauce" when served with lobster includes black beans, and the dish is called lobster w black bean sauce. It is probably my favourite way to serve my favourite crustacean, assuming it is reasonably fresh.

                  As for the duck sauce, I believe it is an American invention. I don't think I have ever had it in Toronto, but I have had it in NYC and Florida, the Gold's version can be found in the kosher aisle of the supermarkets here.

                  Toronto's Chinese-Canadian restaurants serve plum sauce in place of duck sauce. I'm going to go out on a limb here and hypothesize that both are bastardized versions of hoisin sauce, which is typically served with Peking duck. It seems to me that both duck and plum sauce really would have suited the palette of Eastern European Jews (especially Poles), who were initially (and I think we still are)a significant portion of the customer base of East Coast Chinese-American/Canadian food.

                  1. re: jonnybee
                    Melanie Wong RE: jonnybee Jan 5, 2007 05:35 AM


                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      jonnybee RE: Melanie Wong Jan 5, 2007 06:11 AM

                      Whoops, between your Post and Peters I guess mine was kind of redundant and wrong. With these long threads it is easy to overlook things. BTW how does the Cantonese version compare to the Chinese-American version? When I have eaten roast duck in HK style restaurants I can't remember any accompanying sauces other than what was already on the table.

                      1. re: jonnybee
                        Melanie Wong RE: jonnybee Jan 6, 2007 09:33 PM

                        Here's a link to the discussion of siu mei jeurng buried in the Chinese-American thread.

                2. Bad Sneakers RE: Pan Jan 6, 2007 11:53 PM

                  Growing up in Miami I was always given loads of duck sauce with any Chinese take-out. I used to squeeze a packet of it out all over my egg roll, and a good big crunchy egg roll with duck sauce is still a treasured simple guilty pleasure. I've found duck sauce to be very common (along with the fried won ton strips for dipping as a complimentary appetizer) at Chinese restaurants in Miami, New Mexico, and various parts of New England. I'm not sure what the point of my post was, except guilty pleasures are awesome (especially when they are tasty).

                  1. n
                    Nancy Berry RE: Pan Jan 6, 2007 11:57 PM

                    For those folks who miss Saucy Susan:

                    You can order it here:


                    1. byrd RE: Pan Jan 7, 2007 12:57 AM

                      pu pu platters in the sixties and early seventies in new york city were associated more with the polynesian "style" cuisine associated with the likes of Trader Vics than with Chinese cuisine.

                      1. l
                        laylag RE: Pan Jan 7, 2007 01:20 AM

                        On pu-pu platter and duck sauce: Pu Pu platters are still served at many Chinese American restaurants in NY and, in fact, is offered on almost every Chinese take-out menu in my menu drawer. Duck sauce packets come with almost all take-out orders along with packets of soy sauce and hot mustard although thriftier restaurants will ask you which ones you actually want so as not to waste them and other restaurants offer "house" versions which is slightly higher grade duck they send out in small plastic cups with covers.

                        While the spectacle of them, with little fire pots in the middle, was dominant in the 70's at the Polynesian places as well as at many Chinese restaurants in the suburbs, the current pu pu platter generally just means it's a sampling of appetizers usually spare ribs, beef sticks/teriyaki (why this is in Chinese restaurants I don't know, but it is, dumplings or dim sum (I'm not trying to start a whole new discussion on the dim sum issue) and fried items like shrimp toasts or fantail shrimp and egg rolls. Pu pu platters are almost always served with duck sauce and hot mustard for dipping.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: laylag
                          byrd RE: laylag Jan 7, 2007 11:15 AM

                          "it's a sampling of appetizers"...hits the nail right on the head, as far as the number of little packages go it seems that the pattern for takeout that has developed in the ny area is that soy sauce is plentiful, about three duck sauce and you have to ask for mustard and beg for hot sauce; all cost related.

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