Barbeque – Asian style

The first time I experienced Hoisin sauce, or should I say knowingly had it, was at a Chinese restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown.

Ever seen a photo of a huge round table, with an almost-as-huge turntable in the center? Many platters and bowls of food sit upon it, and, as it is turned, diners take a portion of each delicacy offered.

I had been asked to a celebration dinner which consisted of such a setup, and one delicacy served was Peking Duck. There was a thick, dark sauce served with the duck.Smearing just a small amount onto a Chinese pancake, a few slivers of duck and scallion were then wrapped within the pancake.

The first bite was a surprise, but the continuing bites lead to ecstasy; such a rich, heady flavor came from the sauce.

My next conscious experience with Hoisin was having Mhu Shu (also written as Moo Shu or Mu Shu) Pork, a pork and vegetable mixture which is eaten inside, again, a pancake smeared with Hoisin.

A most excellent dish, and if pork is not to your liking, it can be prepared with shrimp, chicken, beef, or a combination.

Be careful though. While these pancakes with filling are small, don’t be surprised when you eat several more than you intended to.

Hoisin sauce is the Chinese version of barbecue sauce, which, besides grilling, can be used in stir fries, marinades, and as a condiment or thickener. It is a soy based sauce having the components of salty, sweet, and spicy due to the additional ingredients of garlic, vinegar, sweeteners, and chilies.

The texture of the sauce is usually thick but can be thinned with the addition of sesame oil or water until the desired consistency is achieved.

While Hoisin can be purchased in a store, it can just as easily be made at home. Having a mortar and pestle handy in the kitchen is an asset for creating the paste quality of some of the ingredients.

Patience is also necessary as it needs a good amount of mixing to help the ingredients meet and marry together. Using a blender is quite useful for this and easier on the wrist.

Hoisin Sauce

Ingredients: 6 Tbsps. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. each creamy peanut butter and black bean paste, 1 Tbsp. each honey and dark molasses, 2 tsps. white vinegar, ¼ tsp. each garlic and onion paste, 2 tsps. sesame oil, 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper, and Hot sauce – dependent upon how mild, medium or hot is desired, or add pieces of chopped chilies to the garlic and onion when creating the paste.

Preparation:

Add all ingredients into a medium bowl, or into a blender, and mix until smooth. The texture will be thick; if a thinner consistency is desired, add a teaspoon of sesame oil or water until achieved.

Makes ½ cup.

One item I like to use Hoisin on is salmon. It gives the fish a rich, smoky flavor from the sauce and a mild sweetness and spice from the glaze it creates.

As a side dish, cook up a package of ramen, adding oriental style vegetables such as snow pea pods, bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms, and red bell peppers for colors. Substitute ½ cup soy sauce for the equivalent of the water needed.

The salmon has the skin and bones removed and cut into four to six ounce portions depending on how large the side of salmon is.

Preheat the oven to 350F, and line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Use a pastry brush to spread a half cup of Hoisin sauce over the foil where the salmon will be lying.

Place the salmon on the foil and brush it liberally with sauce; sprinkle a little ground ginger over all.

Bake the salmon for 20 minutes; test for doneness in the thickest part of the filets. While the salmon is baking, the side dish can be made. Simple and quite delicious!

But if you would rather have a nice bit o’ beef…

Fresh brisket with a lovely red color to the meat, just a 1/4 inch fat cap on top, and just at the two pound mark. Too small for the smoker but too pretty to cut up for use in a recipe. What to do is a good question!

I saw the bottle of Hoisin sauce (yes, I keep a bottle on hand) on the refrigerator door shelf. Hmmm, a smoky sauce with a multitude of flavors on a pretty cut of brisket... and the brain kicked in with an idea.

I have not had good fried rice in a while either, so I knew that would be my side dish. A dash of Hoisin would give it a little smokiness as well.

Hoisin Beef (Brisket)

Ingredients: 2 lb. beef brisket, trimmed of fat; 3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar); ½ tsp. ground ginger; 1 tsp. white pepper; 1 tsp. salt; 1 cup Hoisin sauce; 1 Tbsp. minced garlic; 2 Tbsps. diced red onion

Preparation:

Two hours before roasting the brisket; rub the vinegar over all sides of the meat; wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 325F; line roasting pan with aluminum foil. Score top and bottom of meat with diagonal cuts, creating one inch diamond marks.

Mix together the ginger, white pepper, and salt; rub on both sides of meat. Place meat in pan and roast for 15 minutes.

Mix together sauce, garlic, and onion. Turn meat over in pan, baste top and sides of meat with sauce mixture making sure to get sauce into score marks.

Return to oven for 30 minutes; turn over meat, baste, and roast for another 30 minutes for medium-rare. For medium, repeat turn and baste process. Roast for 30 minutes more. For medium-well, repeat turn and baste process and roast for 30 minutes more.

Remove meat to cutting board; rest for five minutes before slicing. Spoon sauce from roasting pan over meat. Serve with fried rice.

When making rice, add one teaspoon of Hoisin sauce for every three servings to boost the flavor.

Makes six servings.

Oh, the recipe for fried rice? Don’t worry, that will be coming soon enough. If I gave you all the recipes, all at once, whatever else would I write about?

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