Duck sauce – that sweet and tangy condiment that comes in those little plastic packets with your Chinese takeout.
But have you ever wondered what else you can use it for? Or maybe you’re curious about the different variations of duck sauce across the United States.
From orange jelly-like substances to chunky brown sauces, duck sauce has a unique flavor that complements a variety of dishes.
In this article, we’ll explore the many uses of duck sauce and how it can add a burst of flavor to your meals.
So, let’s dive in and discover the versatility of this beloved condiment!
What Do You Use Duck Sauce For?
Duck sauce is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of ways. Traditionally, it is served as a dipping sauce for deep-fried dishes such as wontons, spring rolls, egg rolls, and rice or noodles. Its sweet and tangy flavor complements the savory taste of these dishes, making it a popular choice among Chinese food lovers.
But duck sauce can also be used as a marinade for meats such as chicken and pork. Its sweetness helps to caramelize the meat while adding a tangy flavor that enhances the overall taste.
Another way to use duck sauce is as a glaze for roasted vegetables. Simply brush it on your favorite veggies before roasting them in the oven. The result is a deliciously sweet and tangy side dish that pairs well with any main course.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even use duck sauce as a condiment for sandwiches and burgers. Its unique flavor adds a twist to traditional condiments like ketchup and mustard.
The History Of Duck Sauce: Where Did It Come From?
The origins of duck sauce are somewhat murky, but it is believed to have been invented in the United States as a condiment for deep-fried duck. However, the name “duck sauce” likely came about because the sauce was originally served with Peking duck in China. Peking duck is a crispy skinned, roasted duck flavored with herbs and usually comes with a sauce made from wheat flour and soybeans for dipping. Since soybeans aren’t native to the United States, it is theorized that when Chinese immigrants first established restaurants targeted to American palates, they created a sweeter, friendlier substitute using apricots (or in New England’s case, applesauce and molasses) and called it duck sauce.
While some researchers believe that the first version of duck sauce was really just plum sauce or what Americans in the early and mid-20th century called plum sauce, others speculate that it may be a renamed or variation of hoisin sauce. The basic plum sauce recipe may have been adapted at times, maybe because of ingredient availability or to appeal to American tastes. In some places, plum sauce is still referred to as duck sauce. While the two sauces have similar flavor profiles, they are not the same.
It is also possible that the first use of the term “duck sauce” may have originated in Boston’s Chinatown in the 1920s and spread across the East Coast and then westward. Duck sauce remains as popular as it ever has been, and it would be fascinating if Boston’s Chinatown played a part in its creation.
The Different Variations Of Duck Sauce Across The United States
Duck sauce is a condiment that has evolved over time and has different variations across the United States. Depending on where you are from, the color, texture, and flavor of duck sauce can vary significantly.
In the Midwest and Eastern seaboard of the United States, duck sauce is typically an orange jelly-like substance that comes in packets with Chinese takeout. This version of duck sauce is similar to sweet-and-sour sauce but with a fruitier flavor. It is usually used for dipping crispy noodles, egg rolls, and other fried foods.
In New England, duck sauce is a darker, chunkier sauce served on the table in Chinese restaurants. This variation of duck sauce is made with sweetened applesauce, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. The flavor of this sauce is more complex and fruity than the orange jelly-like version found in other parts of the country.
On the West Coast of the United States, duck sauce is sometimes called plum sauce. This variation of duck sauce is made with apricot jam and vinegar (either red wine or white). It has a tangy and sweet taste that complements deep-fried dishes like wontons, spring rolls, egg rolls, and rice or noodles.
The differences in the ingredients used to make duck sauce across different parts of the United States result in variations in color, texture, and flavor. While some versions are chunky and complex with a fruity taste, others are smooth and glossy with a simpler flavor profile. Regardless of the variation, duck sauce remains a popular condiment that can be used in a variety of ways.
Traditional Uses Of Duck Sauce In Chinese Cuisine
In Chinese cuisine, duck sauce has been a staple for hundreds of years. It is traditionally served with Peking duck, a dish made by roasting a whole duck until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender. The sauce is used as a dip for the meat and complements its rich flavor with its sweet and tangy taste.
Apart from Peking duck, duck sauce is also used in other Chinese dishes such as spare ribs and roasted chicken. Its sweet and sour flavor helps to balance the richness of these dishes, making them more enjoyable to eat.
In addition to being a condiment, duck sauce is also used as an ingredient in Chinese cooking. It is often added to stir-fries and noodle dishes, giving them a unique flavor that sets them apart from other cuisines.
Surprising Ways To Incorporate Duck Sauce In Your Cooking
In addition to the traditional uses of duck sauce, there are some surprising ways to incorporate it into your cooking. One way is to use it as a shortcut for making a sweet and sour sauce. Simply mix duck sauce with soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch for a quick and easy sauce that pairs well with chicken, pork, or shrimp.
Another way to use duck sauce is as a glaze for grilled or roasted meats. Brush it on chicken, pork, or beef during the last few minutes of cooking for a sweet and tangy finish. You can also use it as a marinade for tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian option.
Duck sauce can also be used as a flavor booster for stir-fry dishes. Add a spoonful or two to your favorite stir-fry recipe for an extra layer of flavor.
If you’re looking for a unique twist on traditional pizza, try using duck sauce as a base instead of tomato sauce. Top with shredded chicken, sliced onions, and mozzarella cheese for a delicious and unexpected flavor combination.
Lastly, you can use duck sauce as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables or fruit. Its sweet and tangy flavor pairs well with crunchy carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers, as well as juicy pineapple and mango slices.
Pairing Duck Sauce With Different Foods: A Guide To Flavor Combinations
Pairing duck sauce with different foods can create unique and delicious flavor combinations. Here are some ideas to try:
1. Duck: As the name suggests, duck sauce pairs perfectly with duck. The sweet and tangy flavor of the sauce complements the rich, savory taste of the meat. Use it as a glaze for roasted duck or as a dipping sauce for crispy duck.
2. Chicken: Duck sauce can also be used as a marinade for chicken. Its sweetness helps to caramelize the meat while adding a tangy flavor that enhances the overall taste.
3. Pork: Similar to chicken, duck sauce can be used as a marinade for pork. Its sweet and tangy flavor pairs well with the richness of pork.
4. Vegetables: Duck sauce can also be used as a glaze for roasted vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. The sweetness of the sauce helps to caramelize the vegetables while adding a tangy flavor that enhances their natural sweetness.
5. Sandwiches and burgers: For a unique twist on traditional condiments, try using duck sauce as a condiment for sandwiches and burgers. Its sweet and tangy flavor pairs well with savory meats like roast beef or turkey.
Making Your Own Duck Sauce: Recipes And Tips.
Making your own duck sauce is a simple and easy process that requires only a few ingredients. The basic recipe for homemade duck sauce includes apricot jam, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and garlic powder. You can adjust the sweetness and tanginess of the sauce by adding more or less of each ingredient.
To make the sauce, simply mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. For a smoother texture, you can push the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store the duck sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
If you want to add some extra flavor to your homemade duck sauce, you can experiment with different ingredients such as ginger, honey, or hot sauce. You can also use different types of fruit jams such as peach or plum instead of apricot.
When using homemade duck sauce as a marinade or glaze, be sure to brush it on the meat or vegetables during the last few minutes of cooking to avoid burning. For sandwiches and burgers, try mixing the duck sauce with mayonnaise or sour cream for a creamy spread.