South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce

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DawnT
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2008/06/25 03:09:54 (permalink)

South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce

Hi All

There was a thread a few months back that touched on the regional differences of Chinese food. I've spent my life in Miami and I'm already pushing retirement. There's little variation from one restaurant to another here with a strong Carribean influence from Chinese via Cuba and Jamaica. I never realized the vast differences in what I would order in Tennessee,Connecticut,Mass. and other places that I visited over the years. One particular example as mentioned before was what's called "duck sauce" here. Yes, it's generally served on the table with the hot mustard. Sliced Cuban bread or Cuban Crackers replace the Chow Mein type noodles at the first serving unlike further north. It would almost appear that what I've come to know as Chinese is more a Carribean fusion for over 50 years. Sweet Plantains and black beans are commonly served along with the entree's in many restaurants for example. What we call Chicken Chow Mein here has no noodles served with it no matter where you eat. It's served with white or pork fried rice. It's a concotion of primarly Bok Choy,Celery,Bamboo Shoots,Onions and mung bean sprouts with white meat nuggets of chicken or strips in some cases. Some add mushrooms or snow peas, but that's pretty much it swimming in a greyish,salty starch "gravy". Pork fried rice is even simpler. Nothing more then rice,egg,Char Sui pieces,scallions and maybe mung bean sprouts. The rice looks yellow and perhaps has light soy, but certainly not Dark Soy or Sesame oil like what I had up in the northeast. No carrots,peas or anything else. A variation that's also found in most any latin restaurant called Fried Rice Special is much the same except has cocktail size shrimp and chunks of ham added with the pork. Many cover the rice with a thin slice of pressed ham. A greater enigma is in what's called "Duck Sauce" which in some restaurants may also be called sweet and sour sauce that's no relation to the red sauce. This is not an apricot jam or plum based sauce and nothing at all like the stuff in the packages. It's clear and quite thin with just the slightest thickening of cornstarch. It ranges from clear,to pink,and sometimes very orange. There might be flecks of red in some (pimentos?), suspended in the sauce are tiny bits what tastes like peaches, but the sauce usually has an orangish tasted to it. I can't detect soy,catsup,applesauce,garlic or ginger in the sauce. No question that there's some cornstarch,vinegar, and lots of sugar in the mix. I've never been able to find a recipe that even approximates this taste in any chinese cook book...and I have many. The food is great and what I've come to associate with Chinese food, but for what it is, it seems ubiquitous to the South Florida Region only vanishing before you get to Palm Beach.

Has anyone any clue to what this "Duck Sauce" is?

dwt
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    C Turner Joy
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/06/25 04:10:28 (permalink)
    What was the middle part?
    #2
    doggydaddy
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/06/25 05:47:33 (permalink)


    === No question that there's some cornstarch,vinegar, and lots of sugar in the mix. I've never been able to find a recipe that even approximates this taste in any chinese cook book...and I have many. ===


    You might have the recipe right there. Sometimes I think that there may be pineapple juice in it.
    The color comes from food coloring, as red is considered to be lucky. Who would want to eat wontons or eggrolls with a greyish-white sauce?

    As to the apricot/peach style duck sauce. I need some as I finished off the last of mine last night on some roast duck. I usually can find it in a big jar at the Asian market, but my recent trip to a good sized Asian supermarket yielded only one jar a small jar of a brand made here in the states. The problem was that it wasn't the style of sauce that I am talking about.

    I'm pretty confident that I can duplicate the recipe, so that may be the way for me to go. Your dipping sauce should be a piece of cake. Have you done a web/recipe search? You say that you cannot find a recipe in your Chinese cookbooks. This speaks volumes, as it means that they don't eat that sauce.
    My biggest complaint is when I go to a Thai restaurant here in CT., they also put out wontons with that sauce too. On the west coast, I am used to shrimp chips with it's dark dipping sauce. Hoisin/Ketjap Manis?

    mark

    #3
    DawnT
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/06/26 03:08:59 (permalink)
    Well Mark, I've given the sauce a few tries based on some apricot and plum recipes using canned peaches instead. The results are encouraging and I can already taste some similarity, but I'm missing something. I'd be happy to post what I've done so far, but I'm afraid I'm stumped. These sauces range from colorless to a slight tint. It's not food coloring. Red food coloring as I use for my Char Sui marinade and glaze appear very differently. Ditto using catsup in small amounts. Before trying the peaches, Pineapple was one of my first attempts and it tastes nothing like this. The taste that I end up with begins to tase similar to what's served down here as sweet and sour sauce.
    dwt

    #4
    Baah Ben
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/24 21:39:08 (permalink)
    DawnT - Don't fight it..Who really knows how they make it. It is not worth doing it from scratch, but it is worth doctoring up the stuff.

    We use to get 5 gallon tubs of duck sauce for our restaurant from the nearby Oriental Grocer. We served a Chinese Roast Pork sandwich on garlic bread with duck sauce. So we needed duck sauce. We'd doctor it up by adding 25% unsweetened apple sauce and adding chopped garlic (in the jar) and chopped pimentos (from the can). That's how they do it in Brooklyn.
    #5
    MiamiDon
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/28 10:50:10 (permalink)
    Dawn, I used to work with a guy whose parents, and his wife's parents, owned Chinese restaurants in Miami. I'll give him a call this week to see what he says on the subject.

    BTW, he was born in Cuba.
    #6
    mar52
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/28 12:24:02 (permalink)
    Could it have a Hoisin base?
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    DawnT
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/28 13:28:02 (permalink)
    Thanks MiamiDon! I guess that taste should be familliar to you living here in Wonderland, but absent in your travels.

    There's definitely no Hosin sauce in this Duck Sauce Mar52. Actually, This is a thin,translucenst, sauce that has an orangy-peach sweet taste. No hint of 5 spice or soy in the taste. This condiment is placed on tables in a covered jar with a little spoon in many places. Speaking of Hosin sauce, that's one taste you do not taste in pork/ribs/Char siu down here in my experience. Again, maybe it's a regional difference that may have a Carribean influence.
    #8
    Baah Ben
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/28 22:32:46 (permalink)
    DawnT - One of the basics of Chinese BBQ ribs is Hoisin..it is also a basic ingredient of Chinese roast pork. Lots of recipes you can check out on the Internet.

    Sounds almost like the peach syrup in the can of peaches that's beed adapted for taht particular restaurant. If it's clear, it cannot be commercial duck sauce.
    #9
    mar52
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/28 23:19:10 (permalink)
    No duck sauce on the tables in Los Angeles. Sounds good.
    #10
    DawnT
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/29 00:19:30 (permalink)
    Baah Ben, you have to remember that many of the Chinese in S. Fl have their origins in the Carribean and Latin America for over a century. Food we accept as "Chinese" cuisine here may very well differ and have influences not found in the states. While I won't go so far and say they don't use Hosin sauce in their pork, I certainly haven't tasted it in any sparerib or char siu chunks in fried rice that I've eaten in a restaurant here. I've experimented with several recipes and pretty much favor the one from Cook's Illustrated with some minor changes for my pork fried rice or spareribs. It tastes great, but tastes nothing like what you'd get in a restaurant. Hosin and 5 spice are hard flavors to miss. My contention here as with the sauce is the flavors have developed independently of the Chinese American influences.

    Yes, this stuff is clear with tiny bits of orange colored pieces suspended in the sauce. It's without a doubt slightly thickened with cornstarch, but not enough when it's cold to form clumps. There is also vinegar and plenty of sugar. I've tried many attempts as noted in one of the above posts to create something similar. This sauce is made by the restaurants without a doubt.
    #11
    CCinNJ
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2008/09/29 00:45:35 (permalink)
    If they make it on site, and it UNIQUE to South Florida maybe ask them at the restaurant how they make it. Or, drive by to the restaurant on trash night, and take a look at the empty jars. Trash nights shed light and divulge many a secret, in the restaurant business.

    #12
    Barbarainnc
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2009/02/17 21:26:35 (permalink)
    I like a sauce called Saucy Susan Duck Sauce, some of the ingredients listed are apricots, hfcs,corn syrup,vinegar,food starch,salt, peaches and spices. 

    It is very good. :) :) :)
    #13
    mhill95
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2009/02/17 23:07:10 (permalink)
    Red Plums and Apricots are an ingredient in better duck or old time chinese sweet sour sauces. Vinegar,corn syrup, peppers and fruit are ground up,cooked
    and strained with added starch to thickness.
    #14
    CajunKing
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    RE: South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce 2009/11/06 15:57:19 (permalink)
    I have on occaision used a "duck sauce" that was

    2:1 peach preserve to vinegar
    chile oil
    ground ginger

    heated and mixed together well

    it produces a thin sauce with flecks of peach and red chile and ginger

    If creating your sauce from a juice u may try using liquid pectin or sure jell to thicken your sauce.  It will produce a clear thick sauce or even a jelly if enough pectin is added.


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