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Old 07-24-2008, 10:06 PM   #1
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HELP! "Restaurant" Chinese "watery" dipping sauce

Hey all! I appologize for the length but I have been searching and researching this for a darn decade online. I joined DC the beginning of the year but have had SO much family "stuff" going on that I haven't been active at all.

I really need all of your collective knowledge to help me out. I have Googled and searched all the corners of the web (including DC) and have not found a recipe or name for this sauce (knowing the name would help, no?).

I've lived in Michigan (east and west coasts) all my life and almost every "Americanized" Chinese sit-down restaurant I've eaten at has this sauce in squirt bottles, either on the table or at the buffet. I'm 37, so over 30 yrs. I've had it.

I've always thought of it as eggroll sauce, but that's probably because I love it with my eggrolls (bean sprouts only please!).

The sauce seems to have no thickeners at all, it is watery. It may have just the slightest tinge of yellow to it's color (alot of places have dim lighting) but otherwise appears clear/'lil cloudy and has flecks of what I think are orange zest floating in it.

I definately taste vinegar, citrus (I strongly think zest and not juice) and a tiny bit of sweetness, no spicy. It is completely the consistancy of water so it must have water mixed with vinegar, otherwise it wouldn't be palatable.

I seems like such a basic sauce, and it's been the same for 30 yrs. at a number of Chinese places, but when I've tried to replicate it, I don't get the "essence" of it. I got up the courage to ask a waitress a year ago and she said "sweet and sour". UM, NO. It's nothing like a jarred or restaurant sweet and sour, or plum or duck sauce. Watery, not thickened.

I'm starting to think that it might be some restaurant food supplier sauce given how it's been the same for most of my life and I can't find a recipe or name that comes close to it.

Please DCers, even if you don't have a recipe, can someone put a name to this sauce?! And please ask any question's for clarification so I can say yea or nea to what it might or might not be.

Thanks all! Ali

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Old 07-24-2008, 10:22 PM   #2
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Duck sauce?
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Old 07-24-2008, 10:24 PM   #3
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Are you maybe referring to what's called Duck Sauce?

Here are the ingredients:

1 c. plum preserves
1/2 c. apricot preserves
2 tbsp. honey
2/3 c. cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced

You just bring everything to a boil over medium heat, you don't want it to heat too fast. Cook for about 5 minutes. Can be kept in fridge I assume for several weeks - don't know for sure.

Now, it it's really runnier than that I'm just not sure...I'll take a look around the www though.
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:03 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for your quick reply's and suggestions.

Kitchenelf: It is most definately not Duck, Plum or a Sweet and Sour sauce. It doesn't taste very complex flavor-wise (which is the frustrating part of trying to re-create it). The best synopsis I could give is: WATERY, medium-high citrusy, medium-high vinegary, very slightly sweet, no spice.

There seems to be no thickening agent whatsoever, it is as thin as water or vinegar, if put on the stand I might say there could possibly be a tiny bit of citrus pulp adding a tiny bit of "thickening" to it.

It is frustrating 'cuz this midwestern girl has had it all her midwestern life and can't find a hint of what it is anywhere, even in the very Chinese restaurants that serve it (yes, I'm a whimp and have only asked the once at a restaurant where english is thier second language).

Thanks again, but not what I'm desperately looking for!

Ali
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:11 PM   #5
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Now look what you've done You've got me searching near and far to find this sauce!!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to list everything I find that seems close so don't get frustrated - just nix them when they are totally wrong!

Cooks.com - Recipe - Egg Rolls With Pineapple Sauce

OK - this, I bet, is what you are looking for. That's what was throwing me off - it's found in mostly Thai restaurants - Thai-Style Egg Rolls (Po Piat Tawt) with Sauce | Recipes | Temple of Thai

Just leave out the chilies I guess - I'm still searching because now that I know this I want to find the perfect one!!!!
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:21 PM   #6
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Linda's Thai Sweet Chili Sauce for Dipping (Egg Rolls, Sushi) Recipe | Recipezaar

Is this a picture of what you are looking for? It's called Sweet Plum Dipping Sauce - now I'm just looking for the recipe/
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:29 PM   #7
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I don't think that is right either - I know exactly what you are talking about though - I will go VERY soon to my favorite Thai restaurant and get some of this sauce. It is very think, I remember. Flavorful but not a lot of flavor all at once.
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:56 PM   #8
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Kitchenelf: Now look what you've done! In probably two years I have literally not "laughed out loud" at something on the intraweb!

The first one; nope, cornstarch not invited! I love pineapple but it is more one of the common citrus' like orange or lemon (is pineapple citrus? I don't know) and there is definately only a little bit of sweet to it, not in any equal amounts to any other ingredient.

The 2nd one; even if the tapioca and chili was left out, there isin't any citrus present.

I grew up in Detroit and it's burb's and for the last 14 yrs. have lived on the west coast (Muskegonish area). I have only found two Chinese restaurants that have the sauce here and they are both sit-downs, not primarily take-out's. I don't know that that means anything but it is a commonality.

Thanks for giving me a laugh Kitchenelf, I have to go to bed but I will be back in the morning!

Sleep tight everyone!

Ali
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Old 07-25-2008, 12:12 AM   #9
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Geez Kitchenelf, you're a dirvish! I want to go to bed but apparently I'm a sloth at posting and now I feel the need to answer, then I'm going to bed!

The first one; no, I've been a member of 'Zaar for years and haven't found it anywhere there.

The second one (picture); yes, that looks exactly like it if the red pepper flakes were orange zest. I can't gauge thickness or thinness from the photo, but the "liquid" part looks like the slightly yellow "watery" guts of the sauce.

I hearby give you permission to do as I and go to bed!

Ali

P.S. Forgot to say, it's completely "American" Chinese, I've never had Thai food and our part of Michigan is sllooowwww to new cuisines, we just got a couple of indian restaurants within 50 miles of each other.
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Old 07-27-2008, 02:11 PM   #10
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Sure sounds like a sweet and sour sauce to me!

But, like other sauces - there is more than one way to make it ... and they range from thin to thick as honey - from pale yellow/orange to various shades of red.

I know that the 3 Asian buffet restaurants on the other side of town where I used to live (for about 20 years) always had this in the squeeze bottles on the table (just like you described). I've also gotten it in little plastic packets from the take-out places when I ordered egg rolls.

From what I have been able to find - the commercial stuff is made from:

water, corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, citrus concentrate, and corn starch.

I haven't tried the Asian restaurants on this side of town since I moved - but, I'm going to the Asian buffet around the corner sometime this week - and if they have it on the table I'll see if I can get them to tell me what brand it is.

FWIW - if the orange zest is floating/suspended in the sauce - it has to be thickend some ... otherwise the zest would be either floating on the top or would sink to the bottom.
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Old 07-28-2008, 10:32 AM   #11
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Thank you Michael, that would be great if you could find out for me.

It technically is "a" sweet and sour sauce but not like any sauce you would get in or with a dish titled sweet and sour. I have never gotten it in any of the packets or in any of the jarred sauces I've bought. I've only ever had it from those squirt bottles either on your table or by the deep fried/egg roll section of a buffet. Not every restaurant even has it.

You are right that it very well could have a tiny bit of thickening, I really can't visualize it well enough to say if the zest is incorporated but I know I usually shake the bottle up so it must be settled somewhat. There is very little viscosity to it. The zest (orange, lemon, both?) flavor stands out more so than either the sweet or sour aspects.

I looked at a packet of Duck sauce I have and it only lists peaches/apricots in it's ingredients and no citrus. My bottle of Chun's sweet and sour only lists apricots and no citrus (unless I don't recognize one of the additives as a derivative).

Sigh, I would so love to make this delicous elixer at home. Thanks so much for your help guys! Sorry I ramble so much.
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:56 PM   #12
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check out the sauce for this chicken recipe,,,


oh well, they won't let me post URLS Anyway, it's a japanese lemon sauce...ingredients, lemon, water, sugar and a japanese starch.
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:31 AM   #13
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If it was a really good restaurant, it may have been Yuzu Juice... mixed with other ingredients.

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Old 08-31-2011, 02:35 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Steve_Cooks_and_Cooks View Post
If it was a really good restaurant, it may have been Yuzu Juice... mixed with other ingredients.

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Steve, Welcome to DC.

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Old 09-01-2011, 06:31 AM   #15
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Wow, interesting. I have never seen sauce like that in the places I've been to. I am intrigued.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:24 AM   #16
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Wow, interesting. I have never seen sauce like that in the places I've been to. I am intrigued.
Same here, Charlie.

The only consistent type of sauce I've seen in Oriental restaurants is a Teriyaki type sauce that is served at private tables or as a condiment at buffet style restaurants. It's dark, it's watery and has a mild Teriyaki flavor with citrus and onion bits in it. I've seen this same sauce in about 20 different restaurants.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:10 PM   #17
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It sounds more like the sauces you find in Vietnamese restaurants (and other southeast Asian foods). Sometimes people are unaware that the people who own or cook in what is a "Chinese" restaurant are actually from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand. One time FIL took us to the local Asian place, and our waiters name was Nguyen. DH and I just laughed. Sure enough, the waiter eventually opened his own Vietnamese restaurant. Many places I've lived, the southeast Asians who want to open restaurants call them "Chinese" because as far as the local populace goes, that's really all they know. Been many places like that, and as soon as we know the ethnicity of the staff, we start asking for their cuisine, even if off-menu, and they're always thrilled. And yes, it is used for spring rolls, summer rolls, and lettuce rolls. A hint would be if the skins to the rolls are ultra thin and ultra crispy.
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:15 AM   #18
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Make your own!

Try 2 parts light soy, 1 part fish sauce and one part mirin as a base. Add zest, garlic, chili pepper flakes, et. to taste.
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Old 10-08-2011, 12:20 PM   #19
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Try one, or all, of these. I've never given them names:

DIPPING SAUCES
  • 4 Tbs chili oil
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 4 Tbs soy sauce
Mix together in bowl and serve
  • 4 tbs Soy sauce
  • 2 tbs Peanut butter
  • 1 tbs Honey
  • 2 tsp White vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1/8 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in bowl until combined and serve
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 3/4 tsp minced garlic
Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add juice and zest of 1 lemon. Cool and serve.
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbs water
Combine all ingredients except corn starch mixture in pan and bring to boil. Add cornstarch mixture, return to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until desired thickness. Cool and serve.
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:51 PM   #20
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I agree, it sounds Vietnamese, Nuoc Cham. Basically fish sauce, lime juice, water. Could be seasoned further with sugar, garlic, chiles
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