South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce

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2008/06/25 03:09:54 (permalink)

South Florida Chinese Duck Sauce

Hi All

There was a thread a few months back that touched on the regional differences of Chinese food. I've spent my life in Miami and I'm already pushing retirement. There's little variation from one restaurant to another here with a strong Carribean influence from Chinese via Cuba and Jamaica. I never realized the vast differences in what I would order in Tennessee,Connecticut,Mass. and other places that I visited over the years. One particular example as mentioned before was what's called "duck sauce" here. Yes, it's generally served on the table with the hot mustard. Sliced Cuban bread or Cuban Crackers replace the Chow Mein type noodles at the first serving unlike further north. It would almost appear that what I've come to know as Chinese is more a Carribean fusion for over 50 years. Sweet Plantains and black beans are commonly served along with the entree's in many restaurants for example. What we call Chicken Chow Mein here has no noodles served with it no matter where you eat. It's served with white or pork fried rice. It's a concotion of primarly Bok Choy,Celery,Bamboo Shoots,Onions and mung bean sprouts with white meat nuggets of chicken or strips in some cases. Some add mushrooms or snow peas, but that's pretty much it swimming in a greyish,salty starch "gravy". Pork fried rice is even simpler. Nothing more then rice,egg,Char Sui pieces,scallions and maybe mung bean sprouts. The rice looks yellow and perhaps has light soy, but certainly not Dark Soy or Sesame oil like what I had up in the northeast. No carrots,peas or anything else. A variation that's also found in most any latin restaurant called Fried Rice Special is much the same except has cocktail size shrimp and chunks of ham added with the pork. Many cover the rice with a thin slice of pressed ham. A greater enigma is in what's called "Duck Sauce" which in some restaurants may also be called sweet and sour sauce that's no relation to the red sauce. This is not an apricot jam or plum based sauce and nothing at all like the stuff in the packages. It's clear and quite thin with just the slightest thickening of cornstarch. It ranges from clear,to pink,and sometimes very orange. There might be flecks of red in some (pimentos?), suspended in the sauce are tiny bits what tastes like peaches, but the sauce usually has an orangish tasted to it. I can't detect soy,catsup,applesauce,garlic or ginger in the sauce. No question that there's some cornstarch,vinegar, and lots of sugar in the mix. I've never been able to find a recipe that even approximates this taste in any chinese cook book...and I have many. The food is great and what I've come to associate with Chinese food, but for what it is, it seems ubiquitous to the South Florida Region only vanishing before you get to Palm Beach.

Has anyone any clue to what this "Duck Sauce" is?


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