the gold and blue label of a jar of duck sauce
Gold's Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce — an American Jewish tradition

Gold’s Duck Sauce — tangy recipes recall the classic American Jewish ingredient

If there was one pantry essential to give meals an exotic twist in many Jewish homes when I was growing up it was a jar of Gold’s Cantonese Style Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce.

Duck sauce was the “secret” ingredient in many families’ Friday night chicken and brisket recipes. The kosher-certified tangy sauce (made from peaches and/or apricots, according to the ingredients on the label) still inspires cooks today.

The sauce, inspired perhaps by a traditional Chinese sweet and sour plum sauce used for duck, is parve and available in kosher groceries, online and in some supermarkets. There are several flavors available, but for these recipes I combine a few traditional Chinese ingredients with the original Cantonese style duck sauce.

To prepare Sichuan whole peppercorns (also spelled Szechwan or Szechuan) for the salmon, use a spice grinder, a clean coffee grinder, or a mortar and pestle. The mouth-tingling peppercorns are available in spice stores, Asian markets and online. See the rub directions for alternatives.

Baked Salmon with Duck Sauce

Serves 2-3

1 tsp. oil plus extra for pan
1 recipe spice rub of choice (see below)
1 lb. salmon fillets or steaks
½ cup Gold’s Cantonese Style Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. chopped green onions (scallions)

Lightly coat fish top and sides with 1 tsp. oil then rub with seasoning mix (see below). Let sit 20 minutes while oven heats to 425 degrees. Place salmon in greased baking dish (skin side down if using fillets). Combine duck sauce and soy sauce.

Bake salmon 6 minutes. Brush with half of the duck sauce mixture. Bake additional 6 minutes or until salmon is firm, flakes when tested and is just barely translucent at the center. (Timing varies depending on thickness.) Let rest a few minutes. Serve drizzled with remaining sauce and sprinkled with green onions.

Mouth-tingling rub: Mix together 1 tsp. ground Sichuan peppercorns, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, ½ tsp. ground cayenne (red pepper), ½ tsp. sugar and ½ tsp. sea salt.

Less-of-a-kick rub: Mix together ¼ tsp. ground Sichuan peppercorns, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, ½ tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. sea salt, ½ tsp. dried, ground mint, crumbled, and ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon. Adjust to taste by substituting paprika (milder) or cayenne (hotter) for Sichuan peppercorns.

Duck Sauce Stir-Fried Chicken

Serves 4

1 recipe marinade (see below)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
3 Tbs. oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
½ tsp. dried red chili flakes
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
½ cup Gold’s Cantonese Style Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce, divided
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
3 Tbs. chopped cilantro

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces of even thickness. Stir into marinade (see below). Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 36 hours. Remove from refrigerator, stir well and drain. Discard marinade.

Heat a large wok or skillet. Heat cooking oil in pan, swirling to cover, over high heat. When a small piece of onion sizzles upon contact add onions. Stir fry until translucent and beginning to soften. Add garlic, ginger and red chili flakes. Stir fry until garlic begins to color. Add chicken and stir fry, making sure chicken pieces are cooking separately and not clumped together. When chicken is almost cooked through, add soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Stir fry until liquids are almost evaporated. Lower heat to medium. Add ¼ cup duck sauce. Stir fry until well coated. Turn off heat. Stir in remaining duck sauce and sesame oil. Garnish with cilantro.

Marinade: Mix together until smooth 2 egg whites, 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp. salt and 2 Tbs. corn starch.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at