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Old-school Chinese restaurant "Szechuan dumplings/wontons" with a spicy, vaguely-nutty-but-not-peanutty sauce. How do I make the sauce?

I've looked everyplace I can think of for a recipe, and haven't found a close enough approximation. I'm thinking maybe "Szechuan" is a misnomer, but I always find the dumplings/wontons at places that have Szechuan-style (Americanized...) food. The sauce is a little nutty (I'm thinking maybe Chinese sesame paste...?), a little spicy, a little tiny bit sweet and usually has scallions on/in it. It's about the color of a lighter peanut/satay sauce, but is a little thinner in consistency. I'm really obsessed, and a little desperate...any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

asked by MTMitchell about 6 years ago
4 answers 5840 views
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added about 6 years ago

I've gotten this at several restaurants, though mostly Szechuan or Taiwanese, so I'm not sure that we're talking about exactly the same sauce. But if it has the appearance of a red oil--the ingredients are finely chopped garlic, ginger, and scallions. Chili oil and sesame oil, soy sauce and black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar). Sometimes a pinch of sugar and/or roasted, ground Sichuan peppercorns are included, but aren't necessary. The black vinegar, however, is. It has a complex flavor that could be part of the nutty flavor you're talking about. Of course, the sesame oil also contributes.

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amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added about 6 years ago

Sorry not to be able to shed any light, MTMitchell, but now I'm curious too. I haven't thought of these for years, but they used to be my regular take-out from my local 'Szechuan' joint - whose main appeal was being across the street from my apt. - on nights I'd worked late and came home exhausted and ravenous. They were probably totally inauthentic, but they were addictive and cheap (back then, $3-4 for 5-6 wontons, swimming in that sauce. All to myself.)

You're right - it was like sesame noodle sauce, but thinner, oilier and spicier and just...somehow different. And now, I'm craving them too....hope someone here has the lowdown.

164ae6cf b233 45ae a461 8d7543fae705  melissa mitchell
added about 6 years ago

I've made the red oil one, and it's yummy. Amysarah, those are exactly the dumplings I'm talking about -- I've been known to be a real jerk about getting them every time I'm in NYC (haven't been able to find them in Chicago, but may not have looked hard enough) AND having them all to myself AND then putting the rest of the sauce on rice. This is almost my last resort...if no one can shed light on this, I'm going to the Asian market this weekend, getting every ingredient I think **might** be in there, and going to town on trying every combination I can think of.

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added about 6 years ago

If you're going to do all that shopping, try some fermented bean paste.

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