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Feb 20, 2009 12:13 PM

Chinese "Peking sauce", what exactly is it?

Is it just another name for hoisin sauce, as a number of websites claim, or is it a similar but strictly speaking different ingredient? I've never seen it on a jar in a store, only in the name(s) of restaurant dishes -- if it's not hoisin, does it go by another name when it's not printed on a restaurant menu?

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  1. If you mean the sauce served with Peking duck, in some places, the more authentic sauce that I've had with Peking duck is not hoisin, but is called tian mian jiang. It's similar, but is made from fermented wheat flour.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      To answer your and JungMann's Peking duck question: what I'm thinking of is "pork with Peking sauce." Not very common lately, but pork with ~, used to be pretty common in (Americanized?) Chinese restaurants, anyway. It's a sweet, fairly pungent but not chile-spicy sauce -- almost like a barbecue glaze that just coats stir-fried pork shreds (no veg in this dish at all.) I could easily believe hoisin is a dominant ingredient, but have for some reason I've never quite trusted the idea it was another name for hoisin sauce itself. Possibly incorrectly, of course. ;) Or it may be as much a linguistic issue as anything else - I have no idea what the Chinese names of these dishes/sauces are.

      re "tian mian jiang," is that the English name you'd expect to see on a container of it, or would it go by another name as well? I've seen products in the "bean sauce" section that contain both soy and wheat, is that the idea behind tian mian jiang, or is it just made from wheat?

      1. re: MikeG

        Can't speak for America but that dish is really common in China - restaurants here in Chengdu serve it though it is not local but northern, and comes out very much as you describe though it usually does have shredded leeks or onions as well. Chinese name of the dish is 京酱肉丝 (jing jiang rousi - bejing sauce pork shreds).

        If buying the sauce, I would expect to see tian mian jiang on the package though it can go by other names as well. My understanding is that tianmianjiang, jingjiang, and jingshi tianjiang (京式甜酱, what I have in my fridge right now) are all the same thing and are different from hoisin.

        1. re: pepper_mil

          That is the dish I was talking about, thanks for the confirmation. I came across a recipe for that very thing which does call for tian mian jiang and it's just pork seasoned with tian mian jiang, ginger and soy sauce. (The dish as I remember it was usually garnished with shredded scallions but that's the general idea - I guess it wasn't clear that I meant it wasn't a standard "pork with xxx" stirfry.) From what that recipe's author says, it seems to be what I've seen labelled "sweet bean paste" but will look more closely the next time I'm in Chinatown.

          PS: I can't tell which thing you gave the Chinese characters for, do you know them for tian mian jiang (or if not that, which tones are involved so I don't make a complete fool of myself if I have to ask someone about it?)

          1. re: MikeG

            甜面浆 tián miàn jiàng (sweet wheat sauce)

            京式甜酱 jīngshì tián jiàng (Beijing sweet sauce)

              1. re: MikeG

                Despite my best efforts and a print-out of your post, the seemingly closest thing I've been able to dig up is called "Sweet Bean Sauce," the brand/product about half-way down the list at this page if it displays properly in other people's browsers: I suspect it's a variation on the Beijing sweet sauce, but at this point, who knows - I'm having so much trouble finding the apparently exact thing that I doubt the restaurants I used to have the shredded pork dish at were using it either...

                1. re: MikeG

                  Ahem, sorry, just noticed my Chinese has errors. Wrong final character. Sorry if I led you astray.

                  甜面酱 tián miàn jiàng (sweet wheat sauce)

                  As for that product, it is the same name (in traditional characters) though the ingredients are much simpler than the sauce I have.
                  It really shouldn't be hard to track down. I would expect to be able to find it in most places that stock Chinese sauces. (no idea how to pronounce it in Cantonese tho) I am using Lee Kum Kee brand. Welcome to the wonderful world of trying to understand Chinese food : )

                  1. re: pepper_mil

                    Thanks again. It can be maddening staring at a shelf in a grocery waiting for a sign from the universe to help you ID the right item. (lol)

                    The Taiwanese product I found has an additional radical or 2 in the middle character of its name (麵 vs 面 ) but the store clerk walked me right to it when I showed him the name in Chinese so I'm giving up the chase for the moment. (Another clerk elsewhere wanted to sell me Szechuanese sweet bean paste but that seemed a bit too far out of line?)

                    I'll keep an eye out for a Lee Kum Kee version but they have such a big product line, I've never found a store that seems to carry them "all" and I haven’t seen any that looked at all like tianmian jiang. (sigh)

                    1. re: MikeG

                      Hey Mike, the 甜面酱 tián miàn jiàng in Taiwan would most likely be written in Traditional characters as 甜麵醬 and in Cantonese would be pronounced as "tim4 min6 zoeng3" in standard Jyut6 Ping3 romanization. If you're not familiar with that system it would sound something like "team mean jerng" or "sweet noodle paste" I'm not sure how Lee Kum Kee would spell it as there are varied methods but they do offer something called "Sauce for Shredded Pork in Peking Style" It looks like the name is Ging1 zoeng3 juk6 si1 zoeng3 京醬肉絲醬
                      (say it more like..ging jerng yook see jerng) This is the sauce that Pepper_mil mentioned above as 京酱肉丝 (jing jiang rousi - bejing sauce pork shreds). which is the Simplified/Mandarin for that sauce
                      hope this helps! Happy cooking!

                      1. re: TonyParisi

                        Thanks for the extensive language clarification and for that LKK pic - I'll definitely keep an eye out for it and thanks to the English label, it's kind of hard to miss. ;)

                        1. re: MikeG

                          My pleasure Mike, I had fun researching it. I learned some things myself.

    2. I've never seen "Peking Sauce" on a Chinese menu whether at a Cantonese, Mandarin or American-Chinese restaurant, but if it is the same as the sauce for Peking Duck, then yes, that is simply hoisin.

      1. Mike,

        I'm glad you asked this, because i was wondering the same thing. I have a menu from a chinese place that serves a couple dishes that mention that. Here are the descriptions:

        Peking style sweet & sour chicken - Golden brown breaded white meat chicken sauteed w/onion & garlic in a hot & spicy peking sauce.

        Green Onion Beef - Sliced beef sauteed with fresh green onion in a hot peking style sauce.

        Both dishes are marked as being spicy. I went yesterday to get takeout and was going to ask the older woman who is usually there about it, but she was sick and the young man there was a bit clueless. Hoison sauce isn't usually spicy, though, is it?

        1. The "Peking Sauce" I know is a combination of the following: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, cornstarch, Shaoxing wine (or dry Sherry), and a bit of sesame oil.

          Great on pork tenderloin (stir-fried) or grilled pork chops.

          1. Pork Chop with Peking Sauce......major ingredients in the sauce are ketchup and worchestershire sauce. The sauce is usually colored red.


            2 Replies
            1. re: monku

              If you are talking about the dish Peking Pork the greater NY/NJ area, it's usually closer to (monku)'s description......but also with a combination of (mcsheridan)'s as well. Many places would not use honey and substitute sugar as a less costly ingredient.

              1. re: monku

                I recently had Sizzling Fillet Steak with Peking Sauce at a local Chinese restaurant.
                Enquired about the availability of the sauce & the waiter advised it was made inhouse. Not sure if he was being totally truthfull. We purchased a container from the restaurant for $5.00

                This particular sauce is dark red in colour , has a strong tomato sauce (ketchup) on the nose and a slight amount of worchestershire sauce. .
                To taste , it is very sweet

                Have added a photo to show the colour.