I was first introduced to hoisin sauce by my old roommate. She used to make Vietnamese spring rolls, and the best part about them was the dipping sauce she made - hoisin sauce and peanut butter, thinned with a little water, and finished with chopped peanuts. It is so good and so easy.
I used to think that hoisin was something you had to buy in a jar in the asian section of the grocery store. That is, until I got Gwyenth Paltrow's It's All Good and saw a homemade version. And let me tell you, it is good. So good in fact, that I make it a few times a month. It's better than what you get in the store, and better for you - no mysterious ingredients and preservatives.
It's great on grilled meat or tofu, or mixed with peanut butter to make a great sauce for spring rolls as I mentioned above. I usually use this sauce exactly as Gywenth suggests: Drizzled over a bowl of rice, veggies, and tofu with sriracha. Or as the dressing for Chinese chicken salad. To make the dressing simply mix about a quarter cup of the sauce with a tablespoon of sesame oil, three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and a tablespoon of rice vinegar. You can adjust the ingredients according to your taste.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup red miso paste
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add five spice powder and garlic and sautee 30 seconds. Add the syrup, miso and rice vinegar and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes until thickened. Allow to cool.
Note: Keep sauce in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week. Red miso paste can be found in health food stores and some grocery stores. It can last for several months in the fridge, so once you buy it you can make this sauce several times before it goes bad.