Hoisin sauce, also called Chinese barbecue sauce is a thick, fragrant, and pungent sauce used frequently in Asian stir-fries and marinades and Asian-style grilled dishes. Made from a combination of fermented soy, garlic, vinegar, and usually chillies and sweetener, hoisin is dark in colour and thick in consistency. It has a very strong salty and slightly sweet flavour, which some may find objectionable.
Because the flavour can be overpowering, particularly if you’re new to Asian cuisine, it’s recommended that you use only a bit at a time to experiment with the flavour. Or, dilute the flavour by adding water or oil to the paste before using in a recipe.
Hoisin sauce is a great way to add an authentic Asian flavour and thickening colour to a stir-fry or noodle dish.
Peking-style hoisin sauce ingredients include starches such as sweet potato, wheat or rice, and water, sugar, soybeans, white distilled vinegar, salt, garlic, red chilli peppers, and sometimes preservatives or colouring agents. Traditionally, hoisin sauce is made using sweet potato. Despite the literal meaning of “seafood”, hoisin sauce does not contain fish.
In Vietnamese, hoisin sauce is called “tương đen”. It is a popular condiment for phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup. However, as a condiment, it is primarily used in Southern style phở. Hoisin sauce is not served alongside Northern style phở. The sauce can be directly added into a bowl of phở at the table, or can be used as a side dip for the meat of phở dishes. In phở, hoisin is typically accompanied by Sriracha sauce or “tương đỏ”. The hoisin sauce is also used to make dipping sauce for Vietnamese spring rolls and other dishes similar to spring/summer rolls. In cooking, it can be used for glazing broiled chicken.
Hoisin Sauce Recipe
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon molasses or 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Chinese hot sauce (more or less to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Mix with a whisk until well blended.