Hoisin is a common sauce used in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. You can think of it as more-or-less equivalent to barbecue sauce — thick, pungent, sweet, and fragrant, it’s often used in glazes for roast meat. Many commercial hoisin sauces contain nothing more than sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and starch (plus a list of additives) — and are flavoured with five-spice. You can quickly, and easily, make your own hoisin using with the ingredients of a typical pantry. Bonus, it’ll taste better than Lee Kum Kee, and you won’t have an extra bottle of rarely-used sauce cluttering your cupboard!
What hoisin recipes seem to have in common is a lot of sugar, or honey (or maple syrup because it’s apparently so healthy — thanks, Goop, for your health advice). They also have some kind of bean or nut paste (often peanut butter); and some kind of fermented element — often just soy sauce, but sometimes miso, or black bean paste, too. This recipe is not the most basic recipe I’ve seen, but neither is it the most complicated.
This recipe contains black beans, about which I am (and everyone else should be) a fanatic. Feel free to omit the black beans and/or sesame paste if you wish, and substitute peanut butter or miso — or nothing at all.
– 4 tbsp (60 ml) brown sugar
– 3 tbsp (45 ml) whole fermented black beans
– 1.5 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
– 1.5 tbsp (30 ml) red rice wine
– 2 tsp (10 ml) rice wine vinegar
– 1.5 tbsp (15 ml) sesame paste
– 1/2 tsp (1 big pinch) chinese five spice powder
– 1/2 tsp chili paste (like Sriracha)
Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor, and process until smooth. Taste, and adjust sugar and soy sauce to your liking. You might want to heat it through (the microwave will be fine) to dissolve the sugar. If you want it thicker (like the commercial product) you can also add 1/2 tsp cornstarch before heating it up.