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Chinese "Peking sauce", what exactly is it?

  • m

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: http://www.master-sauce.com.tw/e/sauc.... 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" http://home.lkk.com/product/showpic.a... 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 Chops.....in 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.

              2. You're talking about a different sauce than what I was thinking.....sorry.

                In Los Angeles Chinatown and some Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, you order pork with Peking sauce (link to picture below) this is what you get. The sauce is as I described in my previous post....made with ketchup and worchestershire sauce-some bastardized Chinese American creation.


                3 Replies
                1. re: monku

                  None of the sauces any of you describe sound like the hot and spicy peking sauce that I stated on the menu items above. I wonder what the difference is.

                  1. re: danhole

                    Perhaps danhole, it is a dish more peculiar to your area. The Peking Style Pork Chop as shown in the photo from monku is something you'll see in NYC, but it is not hot and spicy.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      there is also ther matter of Peking meat sauce, that stuff made from ground pork, scallions, and tofu (I think) that they serve over the fat noodles. I've seen that written as simply Peking sauce as well.

                2. WOW, a load of answers, some opinions, some from eating a restaurant. I love Peking Pork Chops, BUT they are similar in different restaurants. Every cook makes it a little different. I live very close to the New Chinatown in Flushing NY. I've search the 'Net for a recipe and IMHO none come close to MY taste. The one I like does not have corn starch and is not gooey. It is a very thin, red sauce. I detect the following flavors, Tomato sauce, ketchup, vinegar, sugar. There are other ingredients that I cannot detect.
                  BTW, Hoisin is the Official sauce served with Beijing Duck in Beijing in ALL the restaurants. Everyone should know that recipes from foreign countries are never the same when making them elsewhere. Case in point, the food in China is far different than the US. Food is different in various parts of China. Beijing, Shangahi, South, West China are all different. Another example is Pizza, how many bastardized versions are there here in the US?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Remag1234

                    The "other" ingredient in Peking Pork Chops is Worcestershire sauce.

                  2. i did some research in my big yellow chinese cookbook (an encyclopedia of chinese food and cooking) http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Ch... , following some info from other posters, and found "yu siang shredded pork" (the recipe includes scallion, ginger, garlic, light soy, brown bean sauce, salt, sherry, vinegar, sugar). btw, this recipe is more complex than any others listed below.

                    then following up on the web, i found a spelling variant (including xuxiang), and these recipes:
                    http://moveablefeast.wordpress.com/20... (from fuschia dunlop -- fish-fragrant pork slivers. you'll find a long thread on fuschia dunlop's recipe from chow's COTM see, e.g., rubee's take: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4946...
                    this claims an oyster sauce is used: http://www.chinatravel.net/forum/Hung...

                    mike, i have zero idea if any of this is what you seek, but i sure as heck got a craving for this dish after researching this! ;-).

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: alkapal

                      Hi Alka hon, this is a lovely dish but not Peking / Beijing northern Chinese, it's Sichuan.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        i was just going off what mike g and pepper mil said the dish was.

                        >>""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).""
                        -- pepper mil 2/21/09

                        "" That is the dish I was talking about, thanks for the confirmation"" --- mike g. 2/21/09

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Jing jiang (capital sauce) rou si = Peking sauce pork shreds, not spicy, Yu xiang (fish-flavored, or in another interpretation I favor, Yu Xiang for the old names of Sichuan and Hunan) rou si = spicy sauce pork shreds. Both great dishes. You have been doing a whole heck of a lot of resaerch into Chinese cooking, I see - a noble and never-ending pursuit!

                          1. re: buttertart


                            i see the error of my ways: yu (or "xu") vs. jing.
                            also jiang ≠ xiang?

                            rou si = pork shreds. got it!

                            jing jiang (or "xiang") = capital sauce. beijing. got it! (can jing also be spelled another way?) not a spicy dish, because beijing was where the royal food developed, not spicy but complex? (that was like what happened in india, btw). this from wiki looks fascinating, in a quick look. what do you think of its accuracy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing_... it's interesting in describing the stratification of the beijing cuisine, too.

                            yu xiang = "fish-flavored" OR hunan and sichuan?

                            hunan cuisine is "xiang" a/c wiki (for the river).****
                            yuxiang seasoning originated in szechuan, a/c to wiki. """The region's cuisine has also been the originator of several prominent seasoning mixes widely used in Chinese cuisine as a whole today, including yuxiang (魚香), mala (麻辣), and guaiwei (怪味)."""

                            man i'm more confused than ever! ;-D.

                            so.... i still don't get it. whichever it is (fish-flavored or hunan-sichuan -- it's a spicy flavor, i get that part). i think the "fish-flavored" interpretation is what threw off folks on the fuschia dunlop COTM thread, too. what i came away with was that it did not taste like fish, but was flavored with the seasonings the same as a fish dish? can the two seemingly disparate interpretations be reconciled, i.e., is the "fish-flavor" seasoning common/prominent in sichuan-hunan cooking?

                            ps, was "yu" ever transliterated as "su" in older books, like my big yellow chinese encyclopedia of chinese food and cooking?

                            thanks for your help. did you ever get fuschia dunlop's autobiography? it looked like a very good read, from my initial reading of its first three chapters at borders a while back. ;-)).

                            "'"Hunan cuisine, sometimes called Xiang cuisine (Chinese: 湖南菜 or 湘菜; pinyin: hú'náncài or xiāngcài), consists of the cuisines of the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province, in China. Hunan cuisine is consisted of three styles: Xiang River style which is represented by dishes of Changsha,Xiangtan, and Hengyang, Dongting Lake style which is represented by dishes of Yueyang and Changde, and western Hunan style which is represented by dishes of Zhangjiajie, Jishou, and Huaihua.
                            Hunan cuisine is one of the eight regional cuisines of China and is well known for its hot spicy flavor, fresh aroma and deep color. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking. Due to the high agricultural output of the region, ingredients for Hunan dishes are many and varied.
                            Known for its liberal use of chilli peppers, shallots and garlic, Xiang cuisine is known for being dry hot (干辣) or purely hot, as opposed to the better known Sichuan cuisine, to which it is often compared. Known for its distinctive málà (hot and numbing) seasoning and other complex flavour combinations, Sichuan cuisine frequently employ Sichuan peppercorns along with chilies which are often dried, and utilizes more dried or preserved ingredients and condiments. Hunan Cuisine, on the other hand, is often spicier by pure chili content, contains a larger variety of fresh ingredients, tends to be oilier, and is said to be purer and simpler in taste[citation needed]. Another characteristic distinguishing Hunan cuisine from Sichuan cuisine is that, in general, Hunan cuisine uses smoked and cured goods in its dishes much more frequently."""

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Ok, rolling the sleeves up here, and sorry do not have time to look up characters:
                              Jiang culinary term = sauce
                              Xiang culinary term = fragrance
                              Jing = capital, hence Beijing (northern capital) and Nanjing (southern capital), as concerns Beijing, as you know the cuisine uses a good deal of tian mian jiang sweet flour sauce, Jing jiang features it.
                              The article on Beijing cuisine is very interesting, I especially liked the section on nomenclature of types of food service establishments because it's something I've always wondered about and never seen explained.
                              Beijing imperial cuisine does partake of the best dishes from all over the (former) empire. The subject of the establishment of a national Chinese cuisine after 1911 is currently receiving scholarly interest - I read a book on the subject recently which was very interesting - will hunt it up and post the title (cannot for the life of me think of it).
                              Xiang geographic term = Hunan (from Xiang River)
                              Yu culinary term = fish
                              Yu geographic term = Sichuan (from ancient kingdom of Yu)
                              Yu xiang "fish flavored" - recipes use chili bean paste which is not used in all Chinese (hereafter CN) fish preparations, even in Sichuan. I first saw the derivation Yu Xiang referring to Sichuan/Hunan in Barbara Tropp's big Chinese cookbook and thought it was way out there, but now it makes the most sense to me.
                              Su would be an unorthodox romanization/transliteration of yu but there are many systems of same, the main two Pinyin (the PRC one I know best and use here), Wade-Giles (the older one, in which jing is romanized as ching - initial "ch" w/o apostrophe following being pronounced as a "j" sound - you see this system in older printed materials and in some things from Taiwan for political reasons), and there are "freerange" systems cooked up by individuals which are often seen on menus and in older cookbooks.
                              Yes I read the Dunlop memoir and LOVED it - and given the short reference to Huaiyang cooking (southeastern CN, from the Yangzhou area), which I love as much if not more than Yu Xiang (!) cuisines, I am hoping that her next project is on this lesser-known but wonderfully flavorful and refined cuisine.
                              Phew, sorry for longwindedness.

                              1. re: buttertart

                                dang, buttertart, you are good, girl! i'm going to have to chew on this a while! thanks so very, very much!

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  My pleasure. Having lived in Taiwan and being married to an authority on Chinese urban history for many years tends to make one learn a thing or two.

                      2. re: alkapal

                        Hi Alkapal - I realize this is a very old thread - but I am wondering if you still use that big yellow chinese cookbook that you referred to. I have it as well - and have just pulled it out after maybe decades of not looking at it. Are there any recipes that you have tried and you recommend?

                        1. re: smilingal

                          hey smiling gal! just now saw your post.

                          i use that book as a reference more than a recipe book.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            i put mine back on the shelf! oh well!

                      3. my personal recipe:

                        water, white sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, A1/worcestershire

                        dash of:
                        rice wine vinegar
                        garlic powder
                        sesame oil
                        spice salt
                        ground ginger
                        white pepper

                        boil and add corn starch water