Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spicy Plum Sauce

Cooking pot with plums, onion, garlic, and ginger
Savory Ingredients with the Sweet

Recipe from Jon

Because our Mirabelle plum is an overachiever, producing huge amounts of sweet-tart yellow plums every year, I’ve wanted to make plum sauce for a long time. This year my new friend Jon, a master of sauces, dips, and all things Asian, graced me with a recipe. This plum sauce has the characteristic sweet-sour-pungent flavor interplay, plus quite a kick from the red chili flakes and large amount of ginger. In truth, I didn’t quite use the recommended chili dosage, choosing instead a heat zone with moderate and pleasant afterburn. The key is to taste the mixture at various points as you prepare it. Jon points out that tasting is also important to achieve your ideal level of Chinese Five Spice. Different batches of Five Spice and red chili flakes vary in strength, so feel free to fine-tune this recipe to your own tastes and ingredients.

Because I wanted a super-smooth sauce to use in barbecue sauces and salad dressings as well as stir-fries, I chose to puree the sauce mixture with an immersion blender after it was cooked and soft. The original recipe, which likely produces more visible bits of fruit, calls for blitzing the ingredients in a food processor or blender before cooking. Choose whichever method suits your purposes and kitchen equipment.

The original recipe calls for cooking the sauce down for one hour, until thick. After 30 minutes, I thought the flavors were blended and concentrated enough—especially the chilis. The jar of commercial plum sauce in my fridge contains thickeners, as does a plum sauce recipe that I found online. So added some corn starch dissolved in water, cooked for a few more minutes, then filled the canning jars and processed them. Again, pick your favored method.

I can’t wait to try this plum sauce on Glazed Pork Chops. Instead of combining two types of jam in the glaze, this one sauce will do the trick. Let us know in a comment if you find other delicious ways to enjoy this plum sauce.

Mirabelle Plums on Tree branch
Raw Materials for Plum Sauce
Spicy Plum Sauce
makes ~5½ - 8 oz. (half-pint) jars

3½ lbs. yellow plums
¼ cup soy sauce
¾ cup apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1½ cups golden brown sugar
1 cup finely diced red onion
3 large cloves garlic, pressed (2½ tsp.)
2½ tbsp. grated ginger
1¾ tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder
2 tsp. (or 1 tbsp.) red chili flakes
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water

Clean and sterilize canning jars. Place lids and rings in bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside. Preheat a canning pot of water by bringing it to a boil, then turning off heat.

Wash, pit, and roughly chop plums. Add to large, deep saucepan. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Stir in onion, garlic, and ginger.

Stir in Chinese Five Spice powder to taste, ½ teaspoon at a time. Stir in chili flakes to taste (or use the entire amount if you like it fiery). As the mixture cooks, the Five Spice flavor mellows and the chili flavor intensifies, so keep this in mind. You can add more of either halfway through the cooking process.

Heat to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Continue cooking on high, stirring constantly, for 2 – 3 minutes to allow the fruit to foam up (release air). Turn heat down to a fast simmer (medium on my stove).

Simmer mixture for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Taste after 15 minutes and adjust the amounts of Five Spice, chilis, sugar, and vinegar to taste.

When sauce is reduced by 1/3 (about 30 minutes), remove from heat and puree thoroughly with immersion blender.

Combine cornstarch with water until well mixed. Stir sauce with wooden spoon while adding cornstarch mixture in a small, steady stream.

Heat sauce over high, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce is glossy and thickened, about 3 – 4 minutes.

Pour sauce into prepared canning jar using a canning funnel and 1-cup measure or other cup with spout. Fill to ½ inch from jar top. Wipe top of jar and threads with damp cloth. Remove lid from water with magnetic lid lifter, shake off water, and put onto jar. Add ring, and tighten just slightly. Air needs to escape the seal during processing. Repeat with other jars, using a high heat spoonula to scrape out the maximum amount of sauce from the pot and funnel.

Place jars in canning pot rack, taking care not to tilt them. Lower rack into water bath and bring to 210 degrees F, using a two-piece digital thermometer. Adjust heat to keep temperature consistent, and/or monitor pot to avoid sauce boiling out of the jars. Process for 10 minutes at 210 degrees F. Remove pot from heat and let cool 5 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath using a jar lifter and oven mit, being careful not to tilt. Tighten rings—a jar wrench helps with this. Set jars on kitchen towel—never directly on cold surface. Allow to cool and set up overnight, or for several hours.

6 Jars of Spicy Plum Sauce
To Store and To Share

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