... a bumper crop of plums ...
I know traditional plum sauce is made with red plums, but I have an Italian prune plum tree in my back yard. It was the saddest little tree when we first moved to the grey cottage, leaning pathetically and constantly attacked by the Japanese beetles during the summer. Eight years later, it still leans slightly, but we've placed a cable around the trunk and 'trained it' to stand up straighter.
We've also declared war on the Japanese beetles over the past three years and have managed to cut the population down through plain old persistence. We capture the ugly buggers using traps and then we follow that up with daily trips around the yard with a can of kerosene to knock them into and do them in quickly. I know it sounds gross, but it kills them relatively fast and one doesn't have to have their scrabbly legs on your hands. You just hold the can under the plant they're attacking and knock the branch they're on and they 'drop' to play dead, only ... yeah, you get it.
ANYWAY! The plums are coming back! And this year, I have enough to make some plum sauce and a couple tarts! Wahoo! Take that Japanese beetles!
So, about this plum sauce. It tart, tart, tart! Made with red wine vinegar and brown sugar and soy sauce, red pepper flakes and star anise. Peeled plums ... and that's it. It's a base sauce that I will use to make dipping sauce for chicken tenders or Asian barbecue sauce for a pork tenderloin or pulled pork Asian wraps. It can be put over duck breast medallions too. The sauce is being put up in half-cup jars and being processed in a water bath to seal things up. I'm leary of adding the ginger root, garlic, honey, five spice powder, et cetera that would make a nice finish for any of the meats listed above. I can do that when I cook the recipe and decide what add-ins I want in the sauce.
I also must say that this sauce doesn't taste at all like the highly processed plum sauces that one gets in the little jars in the International aisle at the super. It's far more concentrated and has more body.
If you've got plums hanging around your counter top, give it a try! You'll see my sauce showing up this fall and winter when I go on one of my Asian food jags!
Here's the recipe:
Tangy Chinese Plum Sauce
2 1/2 lbs. red plums (or prune plums), peeled and pitted
2 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 star anise tied up in a small cheesecloth sack
2/3 c. brown sugar ( I used dark)
1/2 c. dark soy sauce ( I used GF tamari)
1. Place the prepared plums, red wine vinegar, spices in a non-reactive heavy saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the plums are completely 'mushed. Remove the star anise sack and smash the plums through a food mill or use a hand blender to puree them.
3. Add the sugar and soy sauce to the mixture and return to the stove. Cook on very low heat for 40 minutes, until the sauce is thick and smooth.
4. Spoon the sauce into sterilized jars. place the lids and rings on tightly and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
5. remove and check the tightness on the rings. Let the sauce cool and 'ping' as the lids seal.
6. Store in a cool dark place.
Note: When you want to make a sauce, choose your add-ins and mince everything ( shallots, ginger root, garlic cloves, scallions. Prep a wok or small fry pan and add a bit of peanut oil. Cook the aromatics for 30 seconds or so, add the sauce and stir well (it will bubble up dramatically!). Add a few drops of sesame oil and top with chopped green scallions. Voila! Perfect for dipping, drizzling, or mopping roasted duck breasts through!