I love discovering exotic tastes and trying out new recipes so I was really pleased when Blue Dragon sent me a selection of their new cooking sauces to try out. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I saw that they are Sticky Sauces, but I was well up for the challenge !
The jars, each containing 310g - which is plenty for knocking up a family meal for 5 (here at The Madhouse, it was for 2 adults and 3 kids, plus there was a small amount of leftovers) - come in four different varieties :
Chinese BBQ : ""A smoky and sticky sauce for roasting with a rich blend of molasses, caramel, garlic, ginger and Chinese spices"
Char Siu : "A rich dark and sticky sauce with a blend of soy sauce, honey and Chinese five spice"
Peking : "A sticky sweet sauce made for roasting with an aromatic blend of light soy sauce, tomato, garlic, ginger and Chinese five spice"
Teriyaki : "A dark intense sticky sauce made using a blend of Japanses soy, caramel, ginger and soy bean paste".
They all sounded exotic and different to any other sauces we'd tried before, with mixtures of flavours that I wouldn't have put together and wasn't entirely convinced would complement each other. As I was cooking a family meal, I decided to start with the Char Siu sauce, as it is the only one not containing ginger, a flavour (and spiciness) that I don't think the girls would be keen on.
The recipe suggestion on the back of the jar suggests using this with pork ribs that have marinated in the sauce for at least an hour but it says that for a deeper flavour, you should marinate meat with the sauce and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. I'll certainly try this next time, but for this first attempt, I only had time to let the meat (boneless chicken fillets) marinate for two hours.
Despite all four of the jars having a label on them saying "oven cook", I decided to transfer the meat into a wok because I was a bit worried about the chicken drying out too much in the oven. The resulting dish was beautifully cooked, juicy, melt-in-the-mouth chicken pieces, coated in a thick, flavour-packed sauce. The Char Siu sauce is sweet, slightly sour but not spicy so the kids all loved it, as did the grown-ups. It needs to be served with rice, or possibly noodles, to help mop up the sauce.
I've tried a lot of Chinese and other exotic cooking sauces in the past and, although it is definitely a flavour that you'd recognise as Chinese, probably from the spices, it's a unique flavour that was different to anything we'd ever tried before. Despite my reservations, the blend of flavours is delicious, so I can't wait to try out the other varieties. I didn't find the sauce particularly sticky, but this is probably due to the fact that I chose the wok-method instead of the oven as suggested, so I'll try this on marinated pork chops or chicken legs roasted in the oven next time. I also think these would be a great way to add extra flavour to meat - especially pork ribs and chicken legs - cooked on the barbecue, although I wouldn't want to be the one cleaning the grill afterwards !
Either way, the Char Siu got a huge thumbs up and licked plates all round !
100g of sauce (about a third of the jar) contains approximately 155-165 calories, depending on the variety. A quick scan through the ingredients list didn't reveal anything unpleasant (except maybe modified maize starch) and I was pleased to see the inclusion of authentic ingredients such as Chinese Rice Vinegar, Soya Bean Paste, Mirin and Soy Sauce.
We'll definitely be buying these again, especially as you can knock up a delicious and authentic dish at home at a fraction of the price (and calories) of a Chinese takeaway.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £1.49 for 310g
for more information : http://www.bluedragon.com/products/sauces.aspx
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