It’s maple season! March and April are the peak times for maple syrup production in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. Warm days + cool nights = excellent sap flow. It’s a time consuming and laborious process: it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. However, the results are well worth it and there are countless delicious recipes that showcase this beautiful sweet elixir.
I enjoy maple syrup in many forms: as a topping for pancakes and french toast, cooked into desserts and occasionally in savoury dishes. Savoury dishes (ie. not desserts) are a less common way to use maple but the results are just as delicious. This Asian-inspired sauce is absolutely fantastic on chicken and pork. Note that the sauce is quite sweet so it should be brushed onto the meat in the last few minutes of cooking or it will burn to a crisp.
Most ingredients should be readily available at supermarkets but if you can’t find shao hsing rice wine (a.k.a. shaoxing or Chinese rice wine), you can substitute dry sherry or gin (or just leave it out). Chinese five spice powder can be made from common spices can’t find it already blended.
For more great maple ideas, check out the Maple Archives.
Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil such as canola or safflower
- 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
- 1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced ginger (about a 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced)
- 5 green onions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only, save the green tops for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon (more or less, to taste) red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup sodium-reduced soy sauce
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons shao hsing (shaoxing) Chinese rice wine (see above for substitutions)
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
- To garnish: toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, add the oil and heat on medium-high. Add the garlic, ginger and green onion and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté until softened, stirring constantly to prevent burning, about two minutes.
- Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Pour in the soy sauce, hoisin, maple syrup, ketchup, sesame oil, rice wine and white vinegar. Stir until smooth. Add the Chinese five spice powder and stir to combine.
- Simmer the sauce on medium-low heat until it begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool a bit. Strain the sauce to remove the ginger and onion chunks, if desired.
- Brush sauce onto grilled, baked or roasted meats in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Sauce can be kept covered in the fridge for a few days. Garnish the finished dish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops.
Suggestions: The sauce is delicious on pork, chicken, beef, shrimp and firm tofu.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.