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Guidance to Chinese Sauces and Pastes

As it’s known to all, China is rich in natural resources and has a vast territory, which attributes to the varieties of delicious snakes and cuisines. When you come to visit China, you will find that the large ground of sauces used in Chinese recipes. This is a post to guide you using different types of sauces and paste for flavoring.


  1. Soy Sauce(酱油)

It is the basic for many stir-fry sauces and is a traditional seasoning for Chinese recipe which is made from soy beans, wheat and wheat bran (麸皮). It has a mildly salty flavor and bright red color after fermentation.


  1. Mala sauce

Mala sauce is a popular oily, spicy, and numbing Chinese sauce which consists of Sichuanese peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil.

Regarded as a regional dish for Chongqing cuisine and Sichuan cuisine, it has become one of the most popular sauces in Chinese cuisine and spawned many regional variants.


  1. Peach sauce

Peach sauce is used as an accompaniment in Chinese cuisine and other cuisines. It is also used in peach preserves and chutney.

Peach sauce may be used as a dessert sauce as a topping for pancakes, and also on savory dishes, such as grilled chicken, coconut shrimp and pork.


  1. Plum sauce

Plum sauce is a viscous, light brown sweet and sour condiment. It is used in Chinese cuisine as a dip for deep-fried dishes, such as spring rolls, egg rolls, noodles, and deep-fried chicken balls as well as for roast duck. It is made from sweet plums or other fruit such as peach, pineapple or apricot, along with sugar, vinegar, salt, ginger and chili peppers.


  1. Sweet and sour Sauce

Sweet and Sour Sauce is a generic term that encompasses many styles of sauce, cuisine and cooking methods. It is commonly used in China.

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  1. XO sauce

XO sauce is a spicy seafood sauce from Hong Kong. It is commonly used in southern Chinese regions like Guangdong province.


  1. Peanut sauce

Peanut sauce is a sauce made from ground roasted or fried peanuts, widely used in cuisines worldwide.

Peanut sauce is used with chicken, meat and vegetables, adding flavor to grilled skewered meat, such as satays, poured over vegetables as salad dressing or as dipping sauce.


  1. Duck sauce

Duck sauce (or orange sauce) is a condiment with a sweet and sour flavor and a translucent orange appearance similar to a thin jelly. It may be used as a glaze on foods, such as poultry.


  1. Doubanjiang (豆瓣酱)

Doubanjiang, is a spicy, salty paste made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and various spices. For the western part of China, broad bean paste or doubanjiang is a typical chili sauce from Sichuan china. It is the most important ingredients for lots of famous Szechuan dishes, including twice cooked pork belly, mapo tofu, and Sichuan style water boiled fish. After long time fermentation, doubanjiang has a unique spicy flavor.

There are several Pixian doubanjiang brands in China but only 2 of them popular outside China (Juancheng and DanDan).


  1. Chili Oil and Sauces(辣椒油和辣椒酱)


Lao Gan Ma or Old Godmother is a brand of chili sauces made in China. There are two most popular chili oils from Laoganma- crisp chili oil and black bean chili oil. In most cases, they bring quite good tastes in most stir-fry dishes, soups, dipping sauces and cold salad. Laobanma has obtained high popularity outside China.

–Szechuan chili oil

Szechuan chili oil , Sometimes simplified as Chinese chili oil is made with red pepper flakes, spices and oil. With a well balanced mala taste, it is one of the most essential ingredients for lots of Sichuan dishes like red oil wonton, mouthwatering chicken and dan dan noodles.

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–Hunan chopped chili (湖南剁椒)

Hunan chopped chili is a slightly fermented chili paste with a much fresher taste with a slight touch of sour taste. Usually garlic and ginger are also called for common Hunan chopped chili. It is super great with steamed food like steamed fish head, steamed baby taro and etc.


  1. Fermented Black Beans or Dou-chi (豆豉)

Fermented black beans are made of fermented salted black beans and rice wine. They have a savory and slightly salty flavor. In most cases, fermented black beans can be used in steamed recipes for example steamed ribs and in grilled fish.


  1. Cooking Wine (料酒)

Chinese cooking wines play really important roles in most Chinese seafood recipes and meat dishes. The highest quality (Huadiao) is a pure yellow wine. Based on yellow wine and white wine, Chinese developed their cooking wine (Liaojiao) by adding other seasonings.


  1. Brown Bean Paste(Sweet Bean Paste 甜面酱)

Brown bean paste also known sweet bean paste is quite popular in northern part of China and in Sichuan area. It is the main dipping sauce for the famous Beijing roasted duck (北京烤鸭). Brown bean paste usually is made from soy beans and flour with a special fermentation process.


  1. Sha Cha Sauce(沙茶酱)

Sha Cha Sauce is a complex sauce popular in Southern China, Guangdong province and Taiwan area. Mild Sha Cha Sauce have a slightly sweet taste. There are several different varieties in China. But all of them require a huge group of ingredients including peanuts, sesame paste and spices. The most popular way of using Sha Cha sauce is the dips of hot pot, especially Beef hot pot.


  1. Hoisin Sauce (海鲜酱)

Hoisin sauce is a thick, fragrant sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fries, or as dipping sauce. It is darkly colored in appearance and sweet and salty in taste.

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  1. Char Siu Sauce(叉烧酱)

Char siu sauce is quite popular in sorthern part of china. It is a salty and sweet sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, chili, garlic, sugar and Chinese five spicy powders. It is a perfect sauce for chicken wings, char siu pork and ribs.


  1. Sesame Paste (芝麻酱)

Sesame paste is made of roasted sesame seeds. From the color, we have white sesame paste and black sesame paste. It is the magic paste for lots of yummy Chinese dishes.


  1. Sesame Oil (芝麻油)

Due to the distinctive nutty aroma and taste, sesame oil is one of the most important flavor enhancer in Chinese cooking. It almost can go well with everything Chinese like steamed eggs, stir fries, soups, dips and salad. In most cases, Chinese sesame oils are toasted pure sesame oil, either white sesame oil or black sesame oil.


  1. Oyster Sauce (蚝油)

Oyster sauce has a sweet and salty taste and with some smoky feeling. Commonly oyster sauce is made from oyster extracts, sugar, water, soy sauce and wheat flour. It is a seasoning for beef and fish recipes. Oyster sauce in mainly used in Guangdong Cuisine


  1. Vinegar (醋)

Generally there are white vinegar, black vinegar and red vinegar (mainly popular in Zhejiang province) in China. Unlike the fruit and wine vinegar popular in western cuisines, vinegar in China is fermented based on grains (rice usually glutinous rice), wheat bran and sorghum.

So, are you interested in Chinese food? Would you like to use these sauces and pastes to flavor your cuisine?

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