I bought my first piece of kitchen equipment when I was 18 years old. It was a hand-hammered wok. Since then, I’ve taught myself to make dumplings, fried rice, wontons, and, more recently, egg rolls. There was just one missing piece in the puzzle to reclaim my Chinese takeout ritual from childhood: duck sauce.
I’ve lost count of how many times I reached for a jar in the grocery store only to read the label, mutter a few words, shake my head, and realize I just couldn’t go through with it. The ingredient list was too daunting, including corn syrup, sugar, caramel color, D&C yellow #6, and D&C red #40.
After a few passes trying to make my own duck sauce using dried apricots (there’s actually apricots and peaches on the ingredient label of those little packets, too), I was ready to wave my white flag. None of them achieved that translucent, orange jelly that pervaded my dreams.
Shop the Story
That’s when the light bulb went off. My thoughts wandered from jelly to jam and I remembered the homemade apricot jam I’d made last summer. One lone, unopened jar was lingering in the cabinet. I always struggle with opening the last jar of any of my jams, not wanting to close the door between seasons for good. Alas, this was just the special occasion I’d been waiting for.
My apricot jam had half of the crucial ingredients: apricots and sugar. All I needed was some acid to get things going. White vinegar would’ve been my preference, but the red wine vinegar I had available worked like a charm.
No more wrestling with myself mentally at the supermarket, at least not over duck sauce.
Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).