Hoisin sauce is an intensely flavored dark-brown Chinese dipping sauce with a tangy, robust flavor that perks up favorites like Peking Duck and Mu Shu Pork.
What is Hoisin Sauce?
Hoisin is made from fermented soybeans, sugar, garlic, chiles, vinegar, and spices, hoisin sauce is sometimes called Chinese barbecue sauce because its thick texture and concentrated tangy-sweet flavor are a bit like an American
barbecue sauce. It's sweetness makes it a good addition to barbecue sauces and marinades for roasted or grilled meats. It's also is good in stir-fries with vegetables like bok choy, bell peppers, and mushrooms.
How to Use Hoisin
Versatile hoisin sauce is perfect for easy cooking. Experiment by incorporating it into a stir-fry or brushing it onto meats prior to broiling. For a light dinner, dice leftover chicken or pork and envelop it in Boston lettuce leaves along with shredded carrots, thinly sliced cucumbers, and a drizzle of hoisin. Alternatively, blend hoisin sauce with a dash of sesame oil and brush it onto chicken wings or breasts or steaks while they sizzle on the grill. Exercise caution when using hoisin over high heat, as its elevated sugar content makes it prone to quick burning.
How to Buy Hoisin
Hoisin sauce is sold in the Chinese section of most supermarkets, though there's a noticeable difference in quality and texture between brands.
It's worth a visit to an Asian grocer to find some of the better ones, which tend to be thicker and have a concentrated, less sweet flavor. Lee Kum Kee
brand has a smooth, silky texture, a mellow garlic flavor, and a good balance of sweet-ness and piquancy. Koon Chun brand has a thicker, paste-like texture and a wonderful spiced flavor. After opening, store hoisin sauce in the refrigerator; it keeps almost indefinitely.
Hoisin Sauce Substitute
In a pinch, I've used soy sauce as substitute for hoisin. Use half the amount of soy sauce that is called for the hoisin. For example, if a recipe uses 3 to 4 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, substitute 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Add more if needed after tasting. If you want some sweetness you could add a pinch of sugar or honey.
3 Quick Recipes with Hoisin Sauce
1. Hoisin Dipping Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk 1⁄2 cup of hoisin sauce, 3 Tbs. of seasoned rice vinegar, and ¾ tsp. chili-garlic sauce. Use with dumplings or chicken wings.
2. Hoisin Orange Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk ¼ hoisin sauce, 2 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar, and 1 ½ teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate. Brush on grilled chicken, pork or steaks.
3. Hoisin Vinaigrette: In a blender, combine 3 Tbs. lower-salt chicken broth, 2 1⁄2 Tbs. hoisin sauce, 2 Tbs. olive oil, 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar, 1 1 ⁄2 tsp. soy sauce, 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger, 1 tsp. Dijon or Chinese mustard, 1 tsp. minced garlic and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix, adding more broth if necessary to achieve a silky consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use with a steak and spinach salad or with noodles.