Common Chinese Sauces

Today one sees all sorts of fascinating Chinese mixes and marinades in the market place. Five spices, star anise, ginger, Szechuan pepper (black), lemon balm, coriander, tangerine peel, oyster sauce, sesame oil—these are all indispensable in Oriental cooking. Here is a basic guide to the most common Chinese sauces.


It is fermented bean and cooked without adding any water, hence it’s thick consistency. This is good for barbecue – meat or fowl.

XO sauce

Also called Superior sauce. It has brandy, dry scallops, shrimps, Chinese ham, big and small salted fish and oil (they use mainly Canola). Serve with stir-fried seafood.

Sweetish and moderately spicy, made of chili paste, black and white vinegar, white sugar, salt and water. Ideal for light meat dishes.
Szechuan Chili paste

This is an important ingredient for dishes like Tofu. Garlic, herbs, shallots, plum sauce (for texture), sugar and dry chili are blended to make this.

Green Ginger paste

As the name suggests ginger is the major element, mixed with onion leeks, Chinese parsley, celery, oil (this time corn). All this make it green in color. Goes perfectly with shellfish and steamed chicken.

Barbecue sauce

This most familiar reddish sauce, which has A-1 and HP sauces, catsup, oxtail and soup stock.


It has the strong flavor of honey, crushed black pepper with soy sauce used for color. This is a good one for roasted Duck.

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