Introducing…Hoisin Sauce

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Some years ago, when I was judging the James Beard Cookbook Awards, I ended up buying spices and sauces for a one-time use. I needed them to test the recipes to evaluate the cookbooks, but I never used the ingredients again. What a waste.

It was my fault, really. If I’d taken the time to cook more recipes from those particular books or to learn more about the ingredients, I might have used up the remainder. But I was busy and having fulfilled my responsibilities as a judge, I’d moved on.

I think the same might be true with some of Special Fork’s Asian recipes. They are quick and easy to make, but may require some ingredients that aren’t on your everyday shopping list. It may leave you to wonder, why should I take the time to source the ingredient and spend the money, all for a single recipe?

I’m going to divest you of that kind of thinking by showing some really easy ways you could use some of these ingredients. Soon they’ll become a staple in your pantry.

I’m starting with hoisin sauce, and from time to time, I’ll introduce another ingredient with a simple new recipe and links to other recipes from Special Fork that use that ingredient, so you won’t end up with a one-use purchase.

Hoisin sauce is a staple Chinese sauce that is thick and chocolate-brown. It has multi-faceted flavors – sweet and salty, with a hit of spices. Ingredients listed on the jar label include sugar, vinegar, soy bean paste, garlic, sesame oil, chilies and spices. Some brands have wheat flour, so be sure to read the label if you need one that’s gluten free.

Hoisin sauce can be used as a marinade for pork dishes, blended into stir-fry dishes or served as a table condiment. It’s the traditional dip for Chinese roast duck. Once opened, hoisin sauce will keep indefinitely in the fridge. If you buy it in a can, transfer any remainder into a jar before refrigerating.

You can find hoisin sauce in the international aisle of some major supermarkets, in an Asian grocery store or online.

Here are some easy dishes from Special Fork that use hoisin sauce.

Or try the simple recipe below for finger-lickin’ Hoisin Honey Baby Back Ribs.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Hoisin Honey Baby Back Ribs
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons whiskey (such as Bourbon)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 slabs of baby back ribs (4 to 5 pounds)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional, for garnish)
2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal (optional, for garnish)

  1. To make the marinade, in medium bowl, combine hoisin sauce, honey, whiskey, soy sauce and garlic; mix well. Cut each slab of ribs in half to fit a gallon-size, freezer zip-top bag. Wipe ribs dry with paper towels. Put ribs into the bag and pour in marinade. Zip securely and massage the marinade through the bag to disperse and coat all sides of the ribs. Marinate at room temperature 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove ribs from the freezer bag and put them on a foil-lined sheet pan, bone-side down; reserve marinade. Roast for 2 hours or until tender, basting with marinade frequently.
  3. When ribs are done, remove from the oven; heat oven to broil. Brush ribs with reserved marinade. Return ribs to the oven and broil until glazed, about 1 or 2 minutes; watch very carefully to prevent burning.
  4. Cut ribs between bones. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and green onions, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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Posted: Mar 31st by Sandy_Hu