Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Sep 6, 2008 08:22 AM

Chinese duck sauce

Remember when Chinese restaurants had a jar of duck sauce on each table, or gave you a container of it with your take out order? Now, it seems there are only those nasty packets. Can anyone recommend a good jarred variety? Or even better, a recipe?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. believe it or not it is just apple sauce and soy sauce mixed.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jimbosox04

      Not the ones I've had. They are more like thin apricot/pineapple (maybe) marmalade, sweet, but not too sweet, and a little tangy. No apple or soy flavor that I could distinguish.

      1. re: jacquelyncoffey

        Normally made from plums, I think.
        This recipe looks about right though I haven't made it.

        I think any further recipes will have to be moved to the Home Cooking board (probably worth posting a thread there to see who has what).

        1. re: ccbweb

          Here in Canada, it is universally called "plum sauce". The "President's Choice" label, which is available at a number of Canadian groceries, and I understand a few select ones in the US, offers a "Memories of Canton" plum sauce. This is just a bit sharper than the packets one normally gets with Chinese take-out, which actually makes it more refreshing and less cloying, IMHO. We enjoy it with spring rolls, and perhaps surprisingly, with leftover cold noodles the next day. At around $2 for an 8-oz bottle, it's not at all expensive.

        2. re: Jimbosox04

          Jimbosox is talking about the duck sauce served with hot mustard at New England chinese restaurants and it is definitely made with applesauce and soy sauce some restaurants also add vinegar and sugar. Can't find it outside NE and if you grew up on it, nothing else will ever do!!

          1. re: Jimbosox04

            Well............. according to Wikipedia, it was pretty much that in New England. Or this source explains it's more broadly accepted contents:

            I grew up in New York and it was not apple there. Here's a national supplier of 'plum sauce':

          2. OK , maybe all you people are right but I have watched what they used and watched them package it all in the little containers for takeout and that is all they used. It doesn't look like what this wikipedia link is pointing at but more a thick medium brown sauce.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Jimbosox04

              I think what you are describing is "hoisin" sauce, which is made from soybeans, sugar, and vinegar, among other things. It it usually packed in with roast pig or duck from Chinese BBQ's. You can usually find a jar in the Asian section of your local grocery.

              It has a sweet, tangy flavour, and I've used it in such non-Chinese applications as glazing hamburger patties, or adding to home-made baked beans.


              1. re: Jimbosox04

                I am familiar with Hoisin Sauce, which is what I think you are describing, not what I am looking for, it is a fruit sauce.

                1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                  No, I understand you're looking for what Canadians call "plum sauce" - see my earlier post. I was referring to Jimbosox04, who seemed to be thinking of the hoisin sauce packed in with take-out Chinese BBQ.

              2. Check your supermarket's ethnic section for Saucy Susan. This should work nicely for you.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Alfred G

                  I have tried Saucy Susan, I find it to be somewhat bland and pasty, a lot like the packets. The sauce I am looking for is fruity and somewhat tangy, a bit sweet, but not cloying.

                  1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                    jc, it's easy to beat the packet stuff. Get some store brand apricot jam/preserves, place a few tbs in mortar with a pinch of salt. Add a wee bit of microdiced chilis, or dried chili flakes, to add speckles and a hint of background. Then crush with the pestle, slowly adding vinegar to bring it to desired sweet/sour balance. Then add water for desired consistency. Serve at table in the mortar for wow factor.

                    This recipe has been field tested with some party sleepover pre-teens, one of whom arrived with a 3 pound bag of frozen Jeno's eggrolls.

                    1. re: FoodFuser

                      That sounds like exactly what I want, what kind of vinegar would you recommend?

                2. maybe it all leads back to the word that chowhounders hate "authentic". I was at the chinese place tonight and they tell me, it is just how they make it. basically means to me, cheap and easy, works for them, no compaints.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Jimbosox04

                    I think, in this case, its that there are two different things being discussed:
                    1) the sauce that is served with Peking Duck or other duck dishes and may well be exactly what Jimbosox04 describes.
                    2) "duck sauce" that is served along with hot mustard with things like fried wontons and egg rolls.

                    I may also be completely wrong here and the sauce Jim describes may be what the restaurant he goes to serves with fried wontons and such in which case they're simply doing it differently than the places I've been.

                    Also, I'm not sure any of this qualifies as even remotely "authentic" in any real sense.

                    1. re: ccbweb

                      The sauce Jimbosox04 is describing is Duck Sauce in the Boston area. The stuff that is darker brown and thicker and served with Mu Shu Pork or Peking duck is what we know as Hoisin Sauce. I was horrified the first time I was served duck sauce that was orange and had apricots in it, like in the little packets. That's not what is served in Chinese-American restaurants around here, it's basically applesauce and soy sauce and maybe a little vinegar to cut the sweetness.

                  2. OK, I don't necessarily wanna throw a wrench into the works (well maybe I do) but my friend, who happens to be aware of such things, tells me that 'plum sauce' is actually made from canned pumpkin.

                    When i used to order from various food purveyors, I used to spy tins of canned pumpkin. I asked my salesperson 'who buys that stuff?', she said 'the chinese', so I can kinda feel this is true...


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: porker

                      I've actually heard that as well. Seems to me that any somewhat sweet, slightly fruity or similar flavor would work as a base for this kind of sauce. No flavor ends up being predominant and its all just basically sweet, slightly twangy, slightly hinting at heat and faintly fruity-ish. Pumpkin, plum, nectarine, apricot just about any stone fruit, probably cherries would work, too.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        Can't speak to my American friends, but in Toronto, at least, every Chinese place packages "Wing's Plum Sauce" with their take-out, and Wing's is made from plums, not pumpkin.