Chinese Five Spice Plum Sauce

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PlumsWhen life gives you plums, make plum sauce! And plum cardamom bread, but that’s another story. Plum sauce is a traditional complement for grilled meats in Asian cuisine and is a wonderful pairing with duck, pork, chicken or salmon. It is easy to make and is an ideal way to preserve a bumper crop of plums. This sauce is delightfully complex and balances all the flavors on the palate. The sweet plums are paired with Chinese Five Spice, onions, garlic and shallots with a kick of ginger to round it out. One batch yields several pints so be ready to can it or freeze it to have on hand year round and there will still be plenty left over to gift some. We took our inspiration from Hank Shaw at Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook and really appreciated the time saving tip of freezing the plums to make them easier to pit. It was a breeze!

Chinese Five Spice Plum Sauce

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  • 3 pounds plums
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chile bean paste
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Freeze the plums several hours or overnight to make pitting easier. First, using a sharp knife and a lot of care, score the flesh of the plum all the way to the pit around the entire plum. Then pull the plum apart and pop out the pit.
  2. Transfer the fruit to a large Dutch oven and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is fully softened.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for about a half hour, allowing the ginger and shallot to fully soften and release their flavor. Cool slightly, then blend until smooth using a countertop or immersion blender.
  4. This sauce stores well in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for several weeks, or process half-pints for 15 minutes in a water bath canner using new jars and lids.

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