Hoisin Sauce: Cantonese Umami In A Bottle

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Hoisin sauce is a Cantonese sauce that is often used both as an ingredient in dishes and as a table condiment. Some sources claim that hoisin sauce was invented in Beijing and that its original name was Peking sauce. The reason for this is that it is a popular glaze and condiment for Peking duck.

Hoisin sauce was mentioned in historical documents from Lingnan. The Lingnan region today includes Guangdong and Hainan. Another important Chinese sauce — char siu — also originated from this area.

Hoisin is the English version of the sauce’s Chinese name: haixian, which means seafood or sea delicious. The word hoi translates to sea and the word sin translates to fresh or delicious. The name is somewhat misleading since hoisin sauce contains no seafood and is not typically used in or on seafood dishes though there is some evidence that the earliest versions actually did contain fermented fish.

Hoisin Sauce with Peking Duck

When Hoisin sauce still contained seafood, it was considered a luxury food because of this fact. Hoisin is also called tim jyeung, which means sweet sauce. It is given this name when it is served alongside fried tofu or rice rolls.

Hoisin sauce is one of the most widely available Chinese seasonings in the West and can be found in many grocery stores and most Asian food markets.

Hoisin sauce flavor profile

Hoisin sauce ingredients typically include soybeans, garlic, and sugar along with sesame oil and chilies. The number of ingredients and the ingredients themselves can vary from brand to brand; however, the flavor profile is generally the same.

Hoisin sauce is sweet with strong salty and umami notes as well as a thick, sticky consistency though some versions can be thinner than others. It has a similar appearance to American barbecue sauce but is much denser.

Health benefits of hoisin sauce

Hoisin sauce does not contain a wealth of nutrients, but it’s not nutritionally worthless either. The soybeans and chiles are among the ingredients that add healthy properties to the seasoning. Some of the important nutrients in hoisin sauce are:

  • Vitamins: Hoisin sauce contains a variety of B vitamins including niacin and riboflavin. The levels of these vitamins are low given the typical small serving size of hoisin sauce, but they are not negligible.
  • Minerals: You can get a moderate amount of manganese from a 1 oz serving of hoisin sauce as well as a little iron and magnesium.

With hoisin sauce in your diet, you may be able to treat or forestall health problems like:

  • Cancer: The soybeans in hoisin sauce contain isoflavones that can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
  • Poor bone health: Some of the minerals in hoisin sauce can help to build stronger bones and reverse age-related bone loss.

Health concerns

Hoisin sauce is typically high in sodium, which means that it should be avoided by anyone seeking to limit their sodium intake. The soybean content means that you should look for an alternative if you cannot eat soy.

The main ingredient in hoisin sauce is sugar, which is the first ingredient in the list of ingredients. This means that it is not a great option if you are watching your calories.

Common uses

Hoisin sauce can be used in the liquid part of a stir-fried noodle dish or as a dipping sauce for egg or spring rolls. It’s also excellent as a condiment, whether next to Peking Duck or on sandwiches.


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