Hoisin at Home

I got caught flat footed making a crock-pot stir fry the other night. I hadn’t picked up any
hoisin!

As it turns out, I could have made my own from ingredients I had on hand, and probably will next time I create this dish, rather than using a store-bought product. The recipe is so simple, even with a ton of possible variations, that I’m almost embarrassed to reveal it.

For those who are unfamiliar, hoisin sauce is a thick, aromatic sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fries, or as dipping sauce. It has both sweetness and pepper heat, though the proportions vary regionally in the Orient, and by taste everywhere else.

There are a ton of variations possible in today’s kitchen and the recipe below reflects this.
Please be sure to read the notes below the recipe before making any final decisions on your own hoisin.

 
Basic Hoisin (with some variations)
Yield: approximately 1/4 cup
Prep time: 10-15 mintues

Ingredients:
4 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp black bean paste OR
1 tbsp peanut butter (natural is better, though commercial will do)

1 tbsp honey OR molasses OR brown sugar
(adjust accordingkly if using commercial peanut butter)

2 tsp rice vinegar OR apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, finely shopped or mashed OR
1/4 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)

1 tsp white onion, finely chopped or mashed OR
1/4 tsp onion powder

2 tsp sesame oil OR extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp black pepper, ground

20 drops Chinese hot sauce OR
appropriatly sized habanero, serrano or jalapeno pepper, mashed

Directions:
Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Alternately, place everything
into a Mason jar, seal it up, and shake. Either way, it will take only a few minutes to
properly combine.

Notes:
Soy sauce is your basis, obviously. I’ve been curious about what would happen tothe flavors if Worchestershire is substituted. It apparently gives a more savory and less salty basis to the sauce.

Black bean paste and peanut paste are both shown to be traditional in this sauce, depending on what part of the Orient you prefer to frequent. Chick peas, cashews, or almonds might also be used, though each will lend it’s own distinctive flavor to the sauce.

Rice vinegar is the original ingredient as far as my reasearch has indicated. Apple cider
vinegar will add a different sort of sweetness to the resulting flavor, though it handles the
emulsification quite well. White vinegar will definitely add a bite to the sauce, and may be
favored for the hotter variations.

Fresh garlic is preferable, of course, and less of it is needed. Garlic powder is an excellent
substitute, however. I do not recommend garlic salt as it will increase the saltiness of the
sauce overall and dampen the sweetness of a good hoisin.

Onion powder may be preferable as it takes so little for this serving size. Fresh onion will
lend the same flavor, though you are then left with the rest of the onion to deal with. If you are using fresh onion, however, you get a lot more variety – sweet, mild, hot, peppery, and slightly painful varieties are all available year-round in most areas.

Sesame oil is once again more of a traditional ingredient, thoguh if you have none on hand, an extra virgin olive oil will do. While garlic oil is also available in some areas, it will
cause garlic to become a predominant flavor and potentially drown out everything else.

Black pepper has it’s own special flavor to add to hoisin. I generally prefer white pepper
over black as it offers a milder heat without sacrificing any fo the flavor.

The real heat in this sauce comes from the Chinese hot sauce. Sriracha, Tobasco, or any other commercially available sauce may be used. Understand that using hot sauces stemming from anywhere other than the Orient will give your hoisin a wildly different spin on flavor. Crushing your own fresh peppers into a paste will allow you to use a pepper of your choice, without any extra ingedients. Adjust to your preferences and go wild.

 
Hoisin is such a delightful little sauce, and can be used nearly anywhere a BBQ sauce can be used. As mentioned before, it can be used to marinate meat, as a dipping sauce, as an ingredient for stir fry, or simply tossed with noodles for a side dish.

Try your hand at making a batch and let us know how it turns out. You may never buy hoisin at the market again!

–Ann Cathey

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