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Sauces are an integral part of Chinese cuisine and it is these sauces that give Chinese dishes their unique character and taste. A sauce that is indispensable for many Chinese classics like Peking duck, moo shu pork or vegetable stir-fry is hoisin sauce. Hoisin sauce, also known as duck sauce or Peking sauce is made with fermented soy beans, vinegar, chilies and garlic. It is a thick pungent sauce and the flavor is a complex mixture of sweet, salty and spicy. It is usually available in the Asian section of the supermarket, but if you are unable to find it and your dish specifically calls for hoisin sauce, then you need a good substitute for it. There are quite a few things that you can use as a substitute.

Substitute #1

Ingredients
  • Garlic, 2 cloves (minced)
  • Canned dark red kidney beans, ¾ cup
  • Molasses, 3 tablespoons
  • Teriyaki sauce, 3 tablespoons
  • Red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons
  • Chinese five spice powder, 2 teaspoons
Methods

Drain the canned beans from its liquid and rinse it with water. Place all ingredients into your blender and blend to a purée. Pass the purée through a sieve into a small bowl. Passing the purée through a sieve will give it a finer, smoother texture. Store this purée in a glass jar with a lid.

Substitute #2

Ingredients
  • Garlic, 2 cloves (crushed)
  • Water, 2 cups
  • Pitted prunes, ¾ cup
  • Dry sherry, 1½ tablespoons
  • Soy sauce, 2 tablespoons
Method

Simmer the pitted prunes in 2 cups of boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes till the prunes are soft and tender. Remove the prunes from water and let them cool down. When the boiled prunes are cool enough to touch, whisk them into a soft purée in a food processor. Add the soy sauce, crushed garlic and dry sherry and whisk again until you have a smooth paste with a thick consistency. You can also add chili flakes to this mixture to give the sauce a bit of a spicy kick.

Substitute #3

Ingredients
  • Red chili peppers, 2 (chopped)
  • Onion, 1 (small, chopped fine)
  • Plums, 3 cans
  • Apricot, 2 cans
  • Peaches, 1 can
  • Sugar, ½ cup
  • Red wine vinegar, ½ cup
  • Water, ½ cup
  • Black pepper, 2 tablespoons (freshly ground)
Method

Drain the peaches, plums and apricots from their liquid and discard their seeds. Chop them into small pieces and place them in a small saucepan. Add water to the saucepan along with chopped red chili pepper, chopped onions, red wine vinegar, sugar and black pepper. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let this mixture simmer over low heat for an hour until the sugar is completely dissolved and the fruits have softened. Now remove the mixture from the flame and allow it to cool. Purée this mixture in a food processor or blender and store in clean jars. Refrigerate to store.

Substitute #4

Ingredients
  • Barbecue sauce, ¾ cup
  • Molasses, 3 tablespoons
  • Soy sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • Chinese five spice powder, ½ tablespoon
Method

Mix barbecue sauce, soy sauce, molasses and Chinese five spice powder together in a small bowl or a glass jar. Add a bit of water if the mixture is too thick.

Substitute #5

Ingredients
  • Soy sauce, 4 tablespoons
  • Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons (creamy)
  • Brown sugar, ½ tablespoon
  • Honey, ½ tablespoon
  • Sesame oil, 2 teaspoons
  • Hot pepper sauce, 2 teaspoons
  • White vinegar, 2 teaspoons
  • Black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon (freshly ground)
  • Garlic powder, ⅛ teaspoon
Method

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, peanut butter, chili sauce, honey and white pepper powder to form a smooth paste. Use as much as required and store the rest in a clean jar in the refrigerator.

Substitute #6

Ingredients
  • Garlic, 2 cloves
  • Water, 1¼ cups
  • Raisins, 1 cup
  • Sesame oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Miso paste, 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard paste, 1 teaspoon
  • Red pepper, ½ teaspoon (crushed)
Method

Soak the raisins in the water for an hour until they are soft. Blend the raisins with the sesame oil, miso paste, mustard paste, garlic and water until it is smooth.

Substitute #7

Ingredients
  • Garlic, 2 cloves (grated)
  • Ginger, 1 inch (grated)
  • Plum jam, 2 tablespoons
  • Teriaki sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • Red pepper, ½ teaspoon (crushed)
Method

In a small bowl, mix together the plum jam and teriyaki sauce until they are well blended. Add the crushed red pepper, grated ginger and grated garlic to this mixture.

You can also use a bit of barbecue sauce mixed with a little sugar in place of hoisin sauce. Sweet bean sauce or a mixture made from equal amounts of ketchup and molasses can also be used. Hoisin sauce has a pungent taste that is a little hard to replicate. However, the substitutes given above can be used in place of hoisin sauce without compromising on the taste and flavor.