Do you always ask for extra duck sauce? Are you as addicted as I am to those sweet and spicy orange packets you get with Chinese takeout?
The duck sauce is perfect – sweet and sour and ideal for dipping, glazing or drizzling over rice or noodles.
What is duck sauce?
Although it is called duck sauce, ducks are not in duck sauce. Duck sauce is a fruit sauce, usually made with plum, apricot, peach, or pineapple. It is seasoned with ginger, sugar, and sometimes a bit of chilli for mild heat. The vinegar is what gives the sauce its contrasting flavor. It’s basically a sweet and salty jelly before the umami. The sweet and sour notes go well with the fried foods and the duck of course!
how to make duck sauce
Making duck sauce at home is so easy: just combine the ingredients, let it melt, then dunk and enjoy. The best thing about home is its customization. You can adjust the flavor to your liking. Plus, you can make a giant batch and dip in to your heart’s content without anyone judging you.
What is duck sauce made of?
Duck sauce ingredients
- apricot jam or jelly – You could do it with fresh fruit: you would have to cut it up, simmer it and then blend it, but the easiest way is to buy a jar of high-quality apricot jam or jelly. Make sure you like the taste of the jam you buy, as it will make up the majority of your sauce.
- rice vinegar – rice vinegar adds spice, lightness and helps thin the sauce. Rice vinegar is available at most grocery stores; look towards the asian corridor. If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can substitute white vinegar, but it won’t taste the same.
- sucre – You may not need sugar, it will depend on how sweet your jam is and how sweet you want your sauce. I didn’t include sugar in the recipe, but if needed, adjust the flavor of your sauce by adding a teaspoon of sugar, taste, and go from there.
- ginger and garlic – Powdered ginger and garlic are the way to go. The use of ginger and garlic powder (which is literally dried and powdered ginger and garlic) ensures that there are no lumps in the sauce, making it smooth, just like things in small packets.
- soy sauce – just a touch of soy sauce adds saltiness and umami. Don’t overdo it or your duck sauce won’t have that classic orange color.
- Chinese pickled plum – completely optional, but if you find yourself in an Asian grocery store and really want that flavor you can’t quite put your finger on, a Chinese pickled plum will hit all the right notes. They come in pots and people often use them in sauces, stews, and soups.
Is it a traditional Chinese sauce?
Duck sauce can be found in Chinese restaurants, but if you have any idea of an authentic Chinese sauce, plum sauce is probably what you’re thinking of. Popular in Cantonese cuisine, plum sauce is sweet and sour and is served with duck. It is the same shade of orange and as its name suggests, it contains plums. The plums are cooked in a jam sauce with sugar, vinegar and spices.
Is duck sauce the same as sweet and sour sauce?
It’s not the same as sweet and sour sauce, but the flavors are pretty similar. I would say the duck sauce is used more for dipping and the sweet and sour sauce is used more for coating and glazing, like on sweet and sour pork or sweet and sour chicken. The ingredients also differ slightly. The traditional Cantonese sweet and sour sauce contains sugar, vinegar, canned plums, and hawthorn candies. These days in North America, common ingredients are sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch for thickening.
You can eat it with almost anything, but some good bets are:
Duck sauce recipe
Making duck sauce at home is super easy
- 1/4 taxes apricot jam or jelly
- 2 coffee spoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 coffee spoon soy sauce
- 1/4 coffee spoon Ground ginger
- 1/4 coffee spoon garlic powder
- 1 Chinese pickled plum hole removed, optional
Mix the apricot jam, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger powder, and garlic. Use a fork to mash the plum into the sauce, if using it. Mix well, taste, and adjust with rice vinegar (and sugar, if needed) to balance out the sweet-tart contrast. Enjoy!
The sauce will keep in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Duck sauce recipe
Amount per proportion
Calories from fat 1
% Daily value*
Saturated fatty acids 0.01g0%
Cholesterol 0.01 milligrams0%
Sodium 45 milligrams2%
Potassium 20 milligrams1%
The carbohydrates 13.1g4%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.