Chinese Plum Sauce (Sweet and Sour)

Chinese Plum Sauce (Sweet and Sour) is irresistibly good sweet and sour sauce made from fresh plums, ready to grace your dim sum table!

Chinese Plum Sauce (Sweet and Sour)

Chinese Plum Sauce (Sweet and Sour)
by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

This is a great time of year for fruit, in the summer when everything becomes ripe and ever so tasty.
Part of that bounty are red plums, which are great for eating out of hand. Their tart sweetness is naturally inviting. Everyone, it seems, loves them.
Another thing people do love is dim sum, all manner of Asian and Chinese appetizers for parties and first courses. Hot mustard, that dangerously tempting sauce, does well with those appies and a good sweet and sour.
I said good.
Not bad.
And not to stand on a soap box here but some of the stuff in those little take-out packets is tasteless and appalling. Plum sauce? I don’t think the sauce in that packet ever met a plum.
And time was, back when I was younger (I am starting to feel old here!) that sweet and sour stir-fries had a sauce that was made from plums, not just ketchup and vinegar and sugar and…whatever. Those are nice things to perk a sauce up, but where is the substance?
To me, a good sweet and sour plum sauce needs plums.
So the best way to go about making that sauce is to grab a handful of them, pop them in a paper bag to help ripen them, and keep them on the counter.
They really aren’t very hard to peel if they get a little bath in boiling water and then ice water afterwards. And from there it is one easy business to add everything else in there, and cook that sauce into thick sublime submission.
The cook time may vary depending on how high heat you simmer, but mine cooked down into a ketchup-like consistency in about an hour.
And the flavor had no resemblance to any plum sauce wannabe.
This is sweet and sour sauce!
Accept no substitutes.

Chinese Plum Sauce (Sweet and Sour)

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Chinese Plum Sauce (Sweet and Sour)

  • 6 ripe red plums, scored, blanched, peeled and chopped
  • 6 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon butter (to help reduce foaming)


  1. Score plums with an “X” on the bottom and drop into boiling water for about 1 minute (skins should just start to split), then remove plums from hot water and plunge into ice water.
  2. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins, and remove flesh from the pit, chopping up the flesh and adding it to a saucepan.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until plums soften, at which point you can use an immersion blender or potato masher to crush the fruit into a pulp.
  4. Keep simmering on low heat until mixture thickens to the consistency of ketchup, then cool. If it gets too thick upon standing, stir in just a touch of water to control consistency.

Chinese Plum Sauce (Sweet and Sour)

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