Moving always requires a certain amount of downsizing and, sadly, my packet drawer was one of the things I let go during my last move. This might have been a mistake, as I did not realise just how heavily I leaned on those little sauces during culinary emergencies.
I’ve been slowly stocking my new packet drawer, and the fresh (if meager by my standards) supply came in handy just last night. I had spent a couple of hours shoveling dirt from a pickup truck into my newly built garden beds, and I did not feel like cooking. Luckily, I had a bag of frozen dumplings. Unluckily, I was out of all the usual stuff I use to make my dipping sauce, as well as actual dipping sauce.
So I went to the new packet drawer, where I found a few soy sauce packets, various Popeyes accoutrement, and several bright green tubs of McDonald’s Sweet ‘n’ Sour. The latter, if you recall, is already a nearly perfect sauce. It’s sweet and sour (obviously), and features apricot, peach, vinegar, and — this is key — corn syrup. (The emulsifiers don’t hurt either.) It’s really good, but it tastes like McDonald’s, which isn’t what I wanted from my dumplings. Luckily, adding some soy sauce took care of that. I mixed the a couple of packets of soy with the contents of the green tub, and got to dipping.
The results were pretty freaking good. The intense, deep saltiness of the soy reeled in the Sweet ‘n’ Sour’s more cloying qualities, anchoring the flavour in the savoury and tempering that tell-tale, somewhat industrial McDonald’s tang. Mixing these two things is a good idea, is what I’m saying.
You don’t really need to measure. Just add a packet (or about a teaspoon) of soy to a whole tub of Sweet ‘n’ Sour, taste, and add more if you like your dipping sauces darker and saltier. If you want to get fancy, add a teaspoon or two of ginger syrup (either store-bought or homemade) or sushi ginger brine. It’s far from an authentic dumpling sauce, but it tastes much more complete than it has any right to. It’s also pretty good with chicken nuggets, fried mushrooms, or a nice grilled carrot, to name a few things that just popped into my head.