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Sweet and sour sauce


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I'll add a slight variation that I've made before and it is delicious -- a sweet & sour chili dipping sauce. It's got the red color thing going for it, but it is also a little bit spicy, too.


1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup water

2/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

Bring to a boil and reduce it until it is syrupy -- this took me about 20-25 minutes to get it to the right consistency. Take off the heat and add between 3/4 and 1 cup of sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy), basically to your taste. Serve warm or refrigerate and re-heat as needed. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Goes very well with chicken, but you could also use it as a glaze for a ham or a meatloaf.

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Thank you. Thank you.

I knew I would get lots of great recipes and ideas. I can't wait to forward these to my sister.

I will probably try out a few of these myself. I imagine they store well in the fridge and my sister is coming down for Mardi Gras.

She loves this sauce so much she will probably eat it with her crawfish. :shock:

Thank you all again.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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She loves this sauce so much she will probably eat it with her crawfish. :shock: 

Nooooooooooooooooooo! Don't let her do it! :shock:

The addition of sweet chili sauce makes it more appetizing. The rice wine vinegar would also add a flavour as opposed to red food colouring, sugar, water and vinegar.



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If the recipes don't work out... try looking at a local cash and carry/smart and final near you. They have these big jugs of sweet and sour sauce. These might be closer to the restaurant (americanised chinese version anyway lol) version than the typical grocery store kind? :) Good luck!!

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We used tomato paste at my family's restaurant.  Not catsup.  No food coloring.  Sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, salt, cornstarch slurry.  I'm sure there is something else but I can't think of it right now.  Will ask my dad next time.

Thanks Gastro! Keep us informed won't you? :-).

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Or you could buy a can of the Contadina sweet and sour sauce, sold at your finer Safeway stores.

I use that sauce with meatballs or those little Hillshire Farms sausages...makes a great and easy appetizer. But it's not as "day-glo" red as what's served in Chinese restaurants.


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”


Tim Oliver

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We used tomato paste at my family's restaurant.  Not catsup.  No food coloring.  Sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, salt, cornstarch slurry.  I'm sure there is something else but I can't think of it right now.  Will ask my dad next time.

Thanks Gastro! Keep us informed won't you? :-).

You're welcome I'll ask when I'm home for Chinese New Year. First, I need to get Dejah Jeh her gai loong recipe then I need to ask dad for S&S sauce recipe.

Our restaurant's been around for over 25 years and we've had the classic Toisanese/Cantonese inspired Chinese American dishes. So if I ask my dad for the recipe, it's gonna be for the type of sauce one would find in the typical carryout say about 10 years ago. Now with the influx of Chinese immigrants from other areas of China the landscape of the Chinese carryout has definitely changed. When I was growing up, shrimp w/ lobster sauce was always, always, always, jumbo shrimp with ground pork and black bean sauce with a beaten egg topped with chopped scallions. Now you'll find the inspid (yes, dammnit, I said inspid) non-Cantonese verisons that have a WHITE sauce with PEAS and CARROTS? What the heck is THAT?!?!?! :blink:

(Ok, so I'm biased... :laugh: )

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I really like this recipe. I always use the pineapple juice in the sauce instead of water. Tasty!

Here is a similar recipe for a sweet and sour dippng sauce for fried wontons from Nina Simons in her book China Express.

1/4 cup water

3 Tbs ketchup

3 Tbs sugar

1 Tbs rice vinegar (clear)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp cornstarch

Combne and cook over low heat until thickened.

(I haven't tried this as I'm not a super huge fan of this type of sauce but I've been happy with many other items in her book. I think the soy sauce and sesame oil may be a nice addition.)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Yeah, it's in the States near Washington, D.C.  Still doing quite well.

Thanks Gastro! That would be terrific...

I'm glad to hear the restaurant is still going, it's always nice when family restaurants have been around for a while and have a loyal clientele!

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Anyone cares to share his/her sweet & Sour sauce recipe. I saw somewhere someone using apple juice which I think is ideal. I just brought a packet of brown candy suagar which the high end restaurant are using for this sauce. Thank.

主泡一杯邀西方. 馥郁幽香而湧.三焦回转沁心房

"Inhale the aroma before tasting and drinking, savour the goodness from the heart "

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CWL--There is already _at least_ one thread devoted to finding recipes for the "exotic" "Chinese" "red" "sauce". Try here [red sauce link], and try also hzrt8w's pictorials in China & Chinese Cuisine.

Having said that, i really do not want to be a food snob, but with the hundreds of gorgeous, subtle, unbelievably tasty sauces in Chinese cooking, why this starchy, sugary, fluorescent "American-Chinese" abomination?

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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Now, now ... we were asked for help, not for opinion ... and each of us has their own concept of taste. Yes, in American-Chinese cuisine, it is often made to Americans' sweetish tastes ... but there are versions true to the authentic tradition as well.

Cookwithlove, Gus-tatory's suggestion of starting with the sweet&sour thread and Ah Leung's pictorials is very good -- lots of suggestions there. Most of the classic chinese cook books have recipes as well -- you could go to Barbara Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking or Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's The Chinese Kitchen or the early books by Nina Simonds ... or other sites concentrating on recipes, such as chef.com or (my favorite) recipezaar.com will have hundreds of versions -- look for the ones that have been made/commented on by the most people and received the highest average rating.

If you want unorthodox, more modern versions, you can go to Barbara Tropp's China Moon Cookbook (very '70s California; not an eGullet favorite at all), or to Nina Simonds more recent books (more oriented to health than classic recipes) or to Ming Tsai's Master Recipes or to Susanna Foo's cookbooks.

It's a classic sauce that is evolving with chefs' creativity all the time.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

Edited by JasonZ (log)


Philadelphia, PA, USA and Sandwich, Kent, UK

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No, not catsup. I mean, you could use it in a pinch but you won't get the real (faux?) deal. Gotta be tomato paste.

I'm not judging anyone's taste. Hell, I love the tartar sauce on a McD's filet o' fish and I always ask for extra when I order it. (Which is only once a year, I swear!)

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I like my sweet/sour sauce to be 1/2 sweet and 1/2 sour. When someone tastes the sauce they marvel at it and ask why it is so good. Basically it is:



4 Tbs. sugar

4 Tbs. vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 Tbs. dark soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. cornstarch

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan.

Heat the sauce, stirring, until clear and thickened

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Oh yeah. gus_tatory already pointed that out. Maybe someone can combine these two threads into one.

These red sweet and sour sauces probably have a Cantonese origin. I remember while living in Hong Kong, I had only seen 2 sweet and sour dishes. One called 生抄排骨 "San Chow Pei Gwut" [Cantonese] (sweet and sour spareribs, the sauce is red).

Here is a picture from a blogger:


And the other one is 錦鹵雲吞 "Gum Lo Won Ton" [Cantonese] (deep-fried wonton accompanied with a pungent, red sweet and sour sauce mixed with liver slices, green bell peppers, onion slices and probably a few other mix-things that I have forgotten.).

Here is a picture from another blogger:


I loved these when I was a kid. Not as much any more. The red color is definitely from some kind of food dye as it is not natural.

The sweet and sour dishes in the "Northern" China (e.g. Hangzhu) are typically dark brown, not bright red, from what I had experienced.

Are Cantonese the only group that makes sweet and sour sauce in bright red? Dunno. The recipes that I see online mostly use katchup.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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When my uncle owned his Chinese-faux Polynesian restaurant back in the 80's, he made his sweet & sour sauce in a huge batch...

Here's Uncle Russ's recipe...




Sliced & unpeeled Oranges

Sliced & unpeeled Lemon

Sliced & unpeeled Pineapple



Ginger (just few slices)

Celery Stalks (This one really got me but he mentioned something about mellowing/smoothing out with other ingredients).

Red coloring.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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