Peking sauce is used in Chinese cooking, most notably cooking from the region of Beijing. This sauce is sweet and a little bit spicy, often compared to barbecue sauce, since it is used with grilled and roasted foods. It is often made from a base of ingredients like vinegar, soy sauce or paste, and different spices. Many people eat it as a dipping sauce for various foods, use it as a marinade prior to cooking, or brush it onto food as it cooks.
Ingredients and Flavor
Although different cooks prefer their own recipes for Peking sauce, it usually includes chilies, garlic, and soybean paste or sauce, seasoned with vinegar, sugar, and various spices. Much like American barbecue sauce, the spices and flavors used in it can vary quite a bit, and many cooks pride themselves on their unique recipes. This sauce is naturally slightly salty and sweet, though it also has some characteristics of umami, the so-called “fifth taste,” noted for a savory flavor.
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Many people use Peking sauce to dip a variety of foods into, and in addition to being used with Peking duck, it can be added to stir fries and other dishes. One popular use of the sauce is as a seasoning for Chinese scallion pancakes, a popular food served alongside a variety of Chinese meat and vegetable dishes. In barbecuing, it can be applied as a marinade or glaze, used before or during grilling.
Origins and Different Types
Beijing was once written as “Peking” in English and its use can still be seen in the names of some notable dishes like "Peking duck," a food traditionally prepared with Peking sauce. People can refer to both hoisin sauce and tian mian jiang as Peking sauce in English, causing some confusion. These two sauces are quite similar, though they do have different flavors and are not identical.
Packaged and Homemade Varieties
Many grocery stores stock Peking sauce with other Chinese or Asian foods. Cooks who have access to soy sauce or fermented soybean paste can also mix up their own fresh sauce to taste. Freshly made sauces usually keep in a refrigerator for several days and may be frozen for future use. Much like barbecue or other homemade sauces, a wide variety of recipes are available for Peking sauce, with minor variations on ingredients or amounts of spices used.
Allergy and Health Concerns
One thing people should be aware of when buying Peking sauce is that it can include wheat, causing problems for people with gluten sensitivities or allergies. Wheat is often used as a filler in the preparation of fermented soybean foods, including soy sauce. In addition to cutting costs, it also adds a distinctive flavor. People with gluten concerns should check labels carefully and may want to seek out products specifically labeled as gluten free; it is usually safe for vegetarians, however, as it does not traditionally contain animal products.