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Sauced: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

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It's just about "official" grilling time again, which means I'll be back at my favorite of all sauces—barbecue! Last year we tread a trail from Kansas City to Memphis to North Carolina, and while we'll still delve into some regional varieties this summer, I wanted to expand into more unique concoctions—things you may not be able to pick up in a store. We'll start out with what I think is a natural pairing, hoisin and barbecue sauce.

Hoisin—a thick, sweet and salty sauce built on a fermented bean paste base—is already kind of a barbecue sauce, being found in almost anything labeled "barbecue" in a Chinese restaurant, so I only needed to mix in a few American standards to bridge this cultural gap. Those included onion, ketchup, vinegar, and honey. I then added some complementary ingredients like sherry, soy sauce, Sriracha, szechuan peppercorns, and five-spice powder to give additional Asian notes to the finished sauce.

The final product was an incredibly full-flavored sauce, with hoisin dominating, but the ubiquitous sweet and tangy tomato barbecue elements all still present. The other spices added a layer of complexity that lent a unique heat that I doubt you'll find in anything off the shelf. I happily slathered this sauce liberally over two slabs of cherry-smoked ribs, but that's a story for Friday...

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

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