Haw-sin sauce

I don’t know if you’ve seen The Canberra Times today, but I’m in it. I’m pretty excited. Susan Parsons wrote a lovely piece on my foraging for her Kitchen Garden column in Food & Wine. In honour of the occasion I’m going to finally release my recipe for Haw-sin sauce. This savoury stir fry sauce has been a great hit at all my market stalls. At this time of year you can still pick hawberries along a myriad of country roads around south eastern Australia. They’ll be far too ripe to bother trying to make my rosemary and hawthorn jelly, but should be perfect for making sauce.

I got the idea for this recipe from River Cottage. Although hawthorns are common hedgerow plants in the British countryside, they are found all over the world (including north America) and are commonly used in Chinese medicine. So I played around with the recipe to make this version more Sino, less Anglo, if you know what I mean. Although the recipe for an authentic hoisin sauce was hard for me to come by, I think this version is a fitting tribute to the original. I am very happy with the result.

This recipe makes a complex, sweet and sour sauce with body and depth of flavour. The spices hit the right note and the use of black vinegar gives it a great umami hit. I can taste the hawthorn, which provides a subtle fruitiness like quince or apple (fruits which are related to the hawthorn). Others may not notice this though. I designed this sauce to serve in Peking style duck pancakes for my Dad’s birthday dinner. It will be great with duck served in other ways too. I think it would make amazing with pork belly or sticky pork ribs or could simply be stirred through a stir fry. It will keep for a year, but should be refrigerated once opened. Hawthorns are incredibly good for heart health. I find it cheekily ironic to serve this sauce with such rich foods, but I guess the Chinese would actually consider that good balance in a meal. I am inclined to agree. But the sauce also pairs well with tempeh for my vegetarian and vegan friends out there.

If you would like to buy a bottle of this sauce or some of my other foraged foods, please visit my ordering online post for more information and to fill out an order form.

Makes about two litres

600 grams hawthorn berries
200 millilitres black Chinese vinegar*
500 millilitres water
600 grams brown sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 whole star anise
1 teaspoon peppercorns

*Black Chinese vinegar is available from Asian grocers. I picked one with no additives, and a short ingredient list. The vinegar I used had an acid content of 5.5g/100mL. The trick with this sauce is to balance the acid with the sugar so if your vinegar has less acid, use less sugar than stated in the ingredients table.

Sterilise a suitable funnel and your bottles and keep them warm (in a warm oven perhaps).

Remove the stalks from your hawthorn berries and wash them. Tip them into a saucepan with the water, vinegar and spices. Cover the pan and bring them to the boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes or until the berries are soft. Add more water if the pan gets low on liquid.

Place a sieve over a clean saucepan. Tip the berry mix into the sieve and rub the fruit through with a spoon. You can remove the cinnamon and star anise as you see them to make this a little easier. You want to get as much pulp through as possible, leaving only spices, seeds and skin in the sieve.

Add the sugar to the pan with the puree. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and ensure it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

Take your bottles from their warm place and funnel the hot sauce into the hot bottles and seal straight away. Store the sealed bottles in the pantry. Leave the sauce for a month to allow the flavours to develop.

Use it as a dipping sauce for Chinese duck pancakes, use it as a marinade or a stir fry sauce, adding it at the end of cooking. Refrigerate after opening a bottle.

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This entry was posted in Autumn, condiment, Side dish, Summer, Winter and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Haw-sin sauce

  1. Gary Lum says:

    Great article Susan

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