Photo: Claire Lower
My favorite sauce is the McDonald’s variety. It comes in a small plastic tub with a light green label and goes perfectly with McNuggets and McFries. (If you haven’t tried the fries, I recommend fixing this ASAP.)
Like most Fast food saucesThis one is best suited to the food for which it was designed. The McDonald’s Sweet & Sour tastes a little bad with a Wendy’s nugget, for example, and I don’t think a McNugget could be eaten with a Jack in the Box sauce (although all fast food sauces have store-bought frozen French French fries are perfect.)
So, while it’s my favorite fast food sauce, I don’t necessarily want to copy the McDonald’s Sweet & Sour. I think certain spices are best made in scaled-up recipes made in industrial containers. But I think there are things we can learn from his list of ingredients. Aside from high fructose corn syrup, which most people don’t keep in their kitchen, apricot (and / or peach) puree is the main ingredient, and this stuff makes an excellent sweet and sour base.
It’s (obviously) the sweet component. The sauce gets its sour notes from pure white vinegar and a hint of umami from soy sauce. That being said, you have your usual vague, mass-produced food labels and some “Sherry wine powder, “What I didn’t recognize, I could buy.
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Whatever. I didn’t use this knowledge to cheat the McSauce, but I did use it to make a very good sweet and sour product that goes better with homemade nuggets (or a dino nugget), and you can too. Start with a ratio of Three parts of canned apricots to one part of white vinegar, then taste and season as you see fit. I like adding the soy sauce mentioned above to mine – a teaspoon per tablespoon of vinegar adds just enough salt and umami – but I never make the same sauce twice. A pinch of garlic powder, white pepper, MSG and paprika have their appeal, as does a couple of shakes of hot sauce. As soon as I get my hands on the sherry wine powder, I’ll add that too. You can whisk your sauce together, but I like to stir mine with a hand blender to break up any pieces of fruit and thicken the sauce.
Play around with it, I say – but keep the apricot and vinegar ratios consistent and their flavors in the foreground. You’re cute and sour after all. Masking them would be disrespectful.