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Nov 16, 2008 07:04 AM

Favorite Hoisin Sauce?

I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for a good quality Hoisin sauce - I thought that the Lee Kum Kee brand was better than the other one that I had before (don't remember the name), but it still didn't hold a candle to the Hoisin sauce that I get in restaurants with Peking Duck.

Haven't looked into making it myself - but will see what I find by way of recipes as well.

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  1. I'm not really well versed in Hoisin sauces, but I personally like Kikkoman's version.

    1. I usually buy Koon Chun Brand. I mix a little water in it to serve. Also mix it with peanut butter for another kind of dipping sauce.

      When I went to Singapore I found all of these various brand like hoisin with chilies mixed in and so forth. If you have a large Asian hypermarket in your town maybe there will be variety like that to try.

      2 Replies
        1. re: wayne keyser

          Is that the brand that's been available in the USA since the 70s or earlier? A blue and yellow label comes to mind. It used to be the only Chinese brand that one could find. Now most of my Chinese condiments are Lee Kum Kee, though I've never done as side by side comparison.

      1. "... but it still didn't hold a candle to the Hoisin sauce that I get in restaurants with Peking Duck."

        Maybe because they are serving oyster sauce with the Peking Duck? Lots of joints will do that.

        14 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Hmm - interesting question - though it's always 'advertized' as being Hoisin sauce. I have oyster sauce too - I'll taste and see. My recollection is that Hoisin sauce that I've had in restaurance has a stronger, more pronounced flavor than the bottles I've been buying.

          1. re: MMRuth

            I look for a hoisin sauce that lists soybeans or paste as the first ingredient, not sugar.

          2. re: ipsedixit

            I have never ever had someone served Peking duck with oyster sauce.

            1. re: kobetobiko

              yeah, i thought that was odd -- because even hoisin is a step away from the traditional plum sauce, right? but looking it up, i found wiki saying hoisin or sweet noodles sauce are traditional. but then it shows a picture on the left side of "sweet duck sauce"!?

              can anyone elaborate?

              1. re: alkapal

                The Spanish on that 'sweet duck sauce' jar (the wiki illustration in question) translates as 'sweet sauce of wheat'. Wheat is high on the ingredients listed for the sweet noodle sauce.

                The Chinese characters also look similar to the ones on the conical jar of Tian mian jiang shown further down this thread.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Plum sauce is used for roasted duck, not Peking duck. It shouldn't be served with Peking duck.

                  1. re: kobetobiko

                    peking duck is not the same as roasted duck? what makes the difference?

                    and thanks for your insights downthread. hope you had a great thanksgiving! ironically, i had roast duck also, and no sauce was required, either! ;-). i was lucky to get the rendered duck fat from my friend, who was our host. how do you use the fat?.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Peking duck, among other things, is air dried to produce a really crispy skin.

                      Roast duck is, well, just roasted.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        thanks -- this video was interesting:

                        it calls for air drying the duck 6 hours. looks like they did the drying on a countertop with an electric fan. it is ok to leave the duck at room temp for 6 hours? (i guess so....).

                        1. re: alkapal

                          hi alkapal,

                          The air drying for hours is totally fine. Just like all those BBQ meat in Chinese restaurants - they have all been hanging there for some time.

                          Ipsedixit already talked about the difference of Peking duck vs roast duck, so I am not going to repeat. However, there are even more versions of the peking duck nowadays:
                          In some restaurants, Peking duck is served as "sliced skin style" (totally terrible translation, hope you don't mind) or think of it as "crispy skin" peking duck. The staff will slice the crispy skin with very very little meat attached and the crepe will be used to wrap the skin + condiments. It has a nice contrast in texture with the crispness of the skin and the crunch of the cucumber / scallions and the softness of the warm crepes.

                          The "traditional" type tends to have a lot more meat attached to the sliced duck pieces so the end result is much more meaty but less "crackling" from the skin.

                          As for roast duck, you will realize that in Hong Kong, roast goose is more popular (and more expensive) Again there are 2 types: One is crispy styled roast duck/ goose so the skin is crispy outside. The other kind is "wet" roast duck/goose with the skin sort of soft and not crispy but still full of flavor. The very famous Yuk Kee in Hong Kong serves the wet roast goose which is the best in town.

                          As Caitlin mentioned below, duck fat or goose fat are not for waste! They are usually used for mixing with the "dipping" sauce for your roast duck / goose. Also, they are used for mixing with Cantonese egg noodle - The noodle is served plain with just scallion and some high quality, and with some of the very flavorful duck / goose fat, the noodle is like heaven!

                          1. re: alkapal

                            That looks like a good home recipe - Traditional Peking Duck starts with injecting air under the skin, more easily done in restaurants than at home!

                            1. re: scoopG

                              Didn't Ming Tsai use an electric air compressor to do this on ICA?

                              1. re: paulj

                                I'm pretty sure I've also seen him use a bicycle pump.

                                Caught part of his program the other day cooking a big holiday meal for family and friends. Mom and Dad. Other relatives and friends. First time I've seen him in a long time, and he was COOKING IN STAINLESS STEEL WOKS! ackkkkkk!!! Poor baby. He's gone over to the dark side!

                        2. re: alkapal

                          alkapal, potatoes fried or roasted in duck fat are *fantastc*. If you search on tthe home cooking board, I believe you'll find some threads about using duck fat.

                2. Just checked my fridge and discovered that I have the Koon Chun brand. But since it's the only one I've used (at least recently), I've no idea how it compare to other brands. I see on the label, though, that both sugar and vinegar are listed before soybean.

                  Does anyone reading this thread have access to the CI Web site? Googling brought up a link to one of their comparison articles a year or so ago on various brands. I'd be curious to know what they had to say about it.

                  1. The right sauce for Peking duck is tian mian jiang and isn't that commonly served in the states. It's not as sweet as hoisin and is usually a bit darker.

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: PorkButt

                      Very interesting. In "Land of Plenty" Fuchsia Dunlop says that tan mian jiang (sweet wheaten paste) isn't commonly available in the States and that sweet bean sauce, which has a similar taste, works well as a substitute. She says that hoisin is much sweeter than the sweet bean paste. I happen to have a can of sweet bean sauce on my shelf, but I haven't opened it yet. Guess I'll have to try to remember which recipe I bought it for, crack it open and give it a try.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        Tian mian jiang is widely available at most Chinese markets.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I guess I just took Dunlop's word for it and never tried to look for it. Any tips on how to find it? It wouldn't just say "tian mian jiang" on the label in English, would it? Would it say "sweet wheaten paste"?

                          1. re: JoanN

                            It would look like this ... from Lee Kum Kee (see pic below)

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Great! Thanks. I'll keep an eye out for it.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                ipse, please look at my question upthread.... thanks.

                                1. re: alkapal


                                  I saw your post upthread, but not sure what the question is??

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    1. is hoisin used interchangeably with duck sauce? (i thought they are quite different.)
                                    2. i would think oyster sauce is very different from hoisin or sweet noodle sauce, and wouldn't be proper for peking duck. true?
                                    3. is the duck sauce in the wiki article photo the "sweet noodle paste/sauce"?
                                    4. is hoisin made like nigella's plum sauce?
                                    5. which sauce is the proper traditional peking duck accompaniment?

                                    6. what.... is the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      1. They are different

                                      2. Probably, but many Americanized chinese restaurants that serve "Peking" (or more appropriately, roast) duck will serve oyster sauce with the duck (fake oyster sauce no less)

                                      3. Yes, but it's more like a sweet bean sauce (and that's not exactly right either ... you lose something in the translation).

                                      4. Without tasting it it's impossible to tell. Hoisin sauce is sort of like American BBQ sauce -- there are so many variations. It's hard to pin down a definitive recipe, but you know it's hoisin sauce when you taste it.

                                      5. The traditional accompaniment for Peking Duck is a special sauce usu. supplied from two famous Beijing condiment shops, Liubiju and Tianyuan, and bear only slight resemblance to hoisin sauce. Traditional Peking duck sauce is very complex, a bit sweet, with a slight smoky and bitter -- one could almost say, medicinal -- undertone.

                                      6. Slower than the average airspeed of a typical airline flight during Thanksgiving?


                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        thanks so much, ipse! oh, what sauce is served with mu shu pork? and are the steamed pancakes (?) the same as for peking duck?

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Mu shu pork sauce is really just sweet duck sauce most of the time; although nowadays you'll find hoisin sauce to be a popular condiment. The "pancakes" for mu shu pork is a crepe-like creation -- flat and resembles a tortilla (but made from wheat, not corn)

                                          The pancakes for Peking Duck is more bread-like (risen); sort of like a pupusa made from wheat flour (and not masa).

                                      2. re: alkapal

                                        Hi alkapal,

                                        Sorry for the reply.

                                        1. As mentioned by ipsedixit, hoisin sauce and sweet bean paste sauce (what they called duck sauce here) are different things. Sweet bean paste sauce really shouldn't be called duck sauce at all as it has a much wider used than just for serving duck. calling it duck sauce is misleading and incorrect

                                        2. oyster sauce should never be used to substitute sweet bean paste sauce or hoisin. (Though I have never had any restaurant serving me oyster sauce with Peking duck yet.)

                                        3. Yes, and again, it shouldn't be called duck sauce.

                                        4. Looking at the ingredients nigella's plum sauce is definitely NOT hoisin. Totally different ingredients.

                                        5. House blend bean paste (similar to hoisin) will be served at a good Peking duck restaurant. Most restaurants serve hoisin or sweek bean sauce nowadays.
                                        Almost all places in Asia, including Hong Kong, Beijing, etc., use flour crepes to serve with peking duck. I have only had mantou with peking duck in the US, esp. in NYC. Other condiments are julienned cucumber and scallions.

                                        By the way, I am actually in Hong Kong right now for thanksgiving, and the roast geese and ducks here are so good, not sauce is required! ;D

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    I use Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce., but mine is in a 20 squeezable plastic bottle. I check their website, but they only show the jar.

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      Hi Caroline1,

                                      I used to use Lee Kum Kee branded condiments in the past, but nowadays their quality has declined and everything seems to be full of msg, preservatives and colorings. I will try to avoid it as much as possible.

                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                        Yes. I don't buy it often and just put "hoisin sauce" on the shopping list when I sent the housekeeper to the store. I guess she saw an old bottle of some of their other stuff, so that's what she got. It doesn't taste like what I remember from years ago. Any particular brand you recommend? I do have several well stocked Asian markets in my area.

                              2. re: JoanN

                                Tian mian jiang isn't that hard to find (in fact there's a company in California that makes it) but I suspect that most restaurants that serve an ersatz Peking duck don't bother or in the case of Cantonese places, don't even know the difference.

                                1. re: PorkButt

                                  " ... or in the case of Cantonese places, don't even know the difference."

                                  Now, now, lets not denigrate the Cantonese so unnecessarily. :-)

                                  That said, and to be fair, most Cantonese places aren't serving Peking Duck, but rather Roast Duck, so one could argue that using Hoisin (or even Oyster Sauce) wouldn't be "inauthentic".

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Being full blooded Cantonese, the attitude of "it's not Cantonese so it doesn't taste good" is very familiar to me...

                                    It'll be called Peking Duck on the menu, but why would you want to eat it in pancakes when steamed buns are so much better? ;~)