While preparing my recent Christmas dinner, the invariable phrase “sugarplums dancing in their heads” rolled through my mind.
Recently, I was looking at hoisin sauce recipes and thought star anise and Chinese five spice powder were basically Christmas-y flavours. Along with the sweetness invariably attached, these flavours made up what was in the classic confection, sugarplums. Along with honey, the sweetness of sugarplums come from dried fruit of some kind. It’s binding was done with a ground nut of some kind. This flavour is often seen in hoisin sauce with the presence of nutty sesame seeds. The comparisons were so natural, at least to me and my overthinking food dork brain, that a Sugarplum Hoisin Sauce was born.
Sugarplum Hoisin Sauce:
2 Tbsp raisins
2 Tbsp dried cherries (or your favourite dried fruit)
2 Tbsp toasted walnuts (I simply toast them in a dry pan over medium high heat until golden, about 3-4 minutes)
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
Grind the fennel seeds, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg together into a fine powder.
Add the raisins, dried cherries, walnuts, honey, soy sauce, vinegar and ground spices to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes to soften the dried fruit. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a few tablespoons of rice vinegar or water to thin the purée to your preferred texture. Makes about 1 cup. Good for one month in the refrigerator.
To stir fry, add 1/4 cup prepared Sugarplum Hoisin Sauce to a wok over medium high heat along with 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock. Add 3 cups of thinly sliced mixed vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, celery, parsnips, snow peas, for example). Toss and stir constantly for 5-6 minutes. Allow most of the liquid to evaporate and cook the vegetables, coating the vegetables with the hoisin’s flavour. Serves 3-4 as a side.