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Plums in Chinese Cooking
The sweet-sour taste of plum sauce makes it both a popular table condiment and featured in many Chinese recipes
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Like many fruits, fresh plums tend to stay better uncooked. When plums are used in a Chinese dish, the recipe generally calls for Chinese preserved plums, smaller plums the size of a grape or apricot that are preserved in salt and water. (Along with the seeds, preserved plums seasoned with salt and sugar are also a popular treat at Asian candy stores). Just remember that, as with all plums, these need to be pitted.

And then of course, there is plum sauce, a staple dip at Chinese restaurants. Store-bought plum sauce is made with vinegar, sugar, and other seasonings. The result is a sweet, jam-like sauce with a tart flavor that goes very well with egg rolls, spareribs, and roast pork. It is also featured in recipes (see the linkbox to the right).

Not sure which brand to buy? Koon Chun from Hong Kong is very good, and can be purchased online.
If you prefer to make your own, I've provided a recipe below. Just don't be surprised if someday you stumble across a recipe for duck sauce that looks suspiciously like plum sauce. Plum sauce gained this unusual nickname when western Chinese restaurants began mistakenly serving it instead of hoisin sauce with Peking Duck. But whatever name it goes by, one taste of plum sauce and you'll understand why China leads the way in Asian plum production.

Chinese Plum Sauce Recipe
(Makes about 1 1/4 cups)

Ingredients:
1 12-ounce jar plum preserves
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced red chile or crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then simmer a few minutes to blend flavors.
Let cool, then chill. Tastes best if refrigerated, covered, overnight to allow seasonings to mellow. Will keep refrigerated for several days.

*The author recommends using the plum sauce within a few days, as it doesn't keep as well as the store-bought brands.

(This recipe reprinted courtesy of GourMAsia)

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