I’m here, on this long-forgotten blog, to talk about hoisin sauce. My hope is that I don’t forget about this stuff. I mean, I know I won’t forget about hoisin sauce itself, but I hope I don’t forget how to make it.
When I updated this blog more regularly, it was nice having a place to check back on things I liked, a place where I knew I’d stashed a few things I found particularly stash-worthy.
I miss that.
And, when I tasted this sauce today and realized I had finally nailed it, I thought it might be good to stash it here.
I don’t generally buy too many condiments, since many of them are so full of sugar and preservatives – I find that I am a better person when I avoid keeping that sort of thing in my fridge. But hoisin sauce is something I’ve always made an exception for. The sticky dark sauce that masterfully balances supersweet with addictively salty is something I really like having around. It’s fantastic in stir-fries or mixed into soups, I like it on most sandwiches, and I love dipping slices of cucumber or radish in it. My favorite way to use hoisin sauce is in a szechuan style spicy green bean dish, something I would always order at dim-sum restaurants in Vancouver and have now, due to circumstance and geography, started making myself.
Amazingly, hoisin sauce is so simple (and much healthier) to make at home. I guess this recipe, accordingly to my condiment logic, makes me a better person. Basically, you tear up some soft dates, remove their pits, and then put them in a bowl with chopped ginger and garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
Then you puree it all until you’re left with is a smooth paste that is entirely un-photogentic. But taste the stuff now. I think you’ll agree that its looks are forgivable.
Homemade Hoisin Sauce
Note: I played around a bit until I got to this recipe, and along the way I tried using maple syrup and honey instead of the dates and peanut butter instead of the tahini. This recipe below is the version I liked best, but if you don’t have dates or tahini on hand, the other versions were also absolutely worthwile. I’d suggest about 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup and I’m sure whichever nut butter you prefer would work well here too.
5 large dates, pitted and torn into small pieces
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 piece of ginger, about the size of the garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons tahini (thinned slightly with water if needed – it should be just barely runny)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
a few drops of sesame oil
1. Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Spicy Green Beans
serves 1 as a main, or 2 as a side dish
1/3 cup hoisin sauce (recipe above)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 – 1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek (I would start with 1/2 and try it, then adjust to your preference)
1 large clove garlic, chopped
a piece of ginger about twice the size of a garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon each toasted sesame seeds and red pepper flakes (garnish)
1. Mix the hoisin sauce with the soy sauce, vinegar, and sambal oelek and set aside.
2. On medium-high heat, heat the canola oil in a large wok or frying pan with a lid. Once the oil gets hot, add the garlic and stir for a minute or so until it becomes fragrant. Add the ginger and stir for another minute or so before adding the green beans. Toss the beans around until they are coated in oil.
3. Cover with the lid and let sit for about 10 minutes, stirring once after a few minutes, until the bean are blistered and blackened in some areas.
4. Pour the sauce into the pan and toss to coat. Let it cook for a few minutes until the sauce is warmed and slightly thickened.
5. Serve warm, garnished with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.