Is Hoisin Sauce Vegan? Vegan Hoisin Sauce Recipe

Multi-purpose condiments are the soul of every food lover. Adding a spoon-full hoisin sauce to a  regular bowl of vegetables can uplift the taste by multi-folds. Well, why just a bowl of vegetables? You can use hoisin sauce as the base flavor for yummy pizzas or burgers and can use them as dipping to go with dumplings and bread.

Hoisin sauce is a dark and flavorful Chinese sauce, with a thick consistency and strong aroma, generally added to marinades, stir-fries, or even consumed as a dipping sauce. It is made of fermented soybean paste (Doubanjiang) combining a balanced proportion of sweet, tangy, and salty flavors to enhance the appeal of almost any food it is added to go over your tastebuds.

It is intriguing yet interesting that Hoisin (海鮮) is the Chinese word for “seafood”. So is hoisin sauce vegetarian? This article is about exploring all about hoisin sauce ingredients, and we are also giving out a vegan hoisin sauce recipe to help our vegan friends find a yummy accompaniment to almost any meal.

Is Hoisin Vegan?

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Hoisin derives its name from the Chinese word for “seafood”, but the sauce does not contain any seafood ingredients, so it is a green check for vegans! It is named Hoisin because the sauce has been traditionally consumed with seafood. It does not correlate with the popular Oyster sauce, another Chinese dipping, which contains seafood ingredients like oysters.

Rest assured vegans! You can have hoisin sauce, but if you are going to purchase hoisin sauce from the nearby supermarket, you would need to watch out for a few ingredients.

What is Hoisin sauce made of? – Typical Ingredients

Traditionally Hoisin sauce is made of fermented soybean paste and a collection of spices.

The ingredients and their vegan status are as follows:

  • Chili – Natural and plant-based.
  • Salt – Vegan.
  • Garlic – Vegan.
  • Vinegar – Vegan.
  • Xanthan Gum – Made of fermented glucose and sucrose (sugars), Vegan-friendly.
  • Artificial colors (commercially available hoisin sauce) – Contentious, further clarification ahead.
  • Caramel color – Heated simple sugar but again contentious

All the ingredients are vegan-friendly and have no debate around except for artificial colors and the caramel color found in commercially made hoisin sauce. To opt for the safest shot, it is always recommended to prepare hoisin sauce at home with 100% natural ingredients. Homemade vegan hoisin sauce is not only healthy but also cheaper. Let’s visit why should you beware of commercially available sauce and how can you make hoisin sauce at home?

Potential non-vegan ingredients in store-bought hoisin sauce

Let’s address the controversy.

It’s clear that Hoisin sauce does not contain any non-vegetarian items or sea-foods irrespective of its name. However, two ingredients in store-bought products, namely artificial colors and caramel colorings, could be the potential non-vegan ingredients.

1. Artificial Colors

Certain commercial hoisin sauces contain artificial colors like Red 40 (check vegan status), Yellow 5, etc. Many vegans scrutinize the presence of artificial colors since several animal testing procedures are carried out to give it a safe verdict.

2. Caramel Color

Though mostly vegan, yet Caramel color is not 100% dependable. In case you’d wish to avoid them, do confirm with the manufacturer or customer service about the color’s sourcing or testing.

100% Vegan-friendly Hoisin Sauce Recipe

Tully ZanderAuthorTully ZanderCategoryRecipeDifficultyBeginner

Since hoisin sauce is not available in most countries and it is safer for vegans to prepare at home, there is an easy tip to prepare this yummy condiment on your own. The recipe has two simple steps and would take less than 10 mins to prepare.

Vegan-friendly Hoisin Sauce Recipe

Yields1 Serving
Prep Time5 minsTotal Time5 mins

 1 cup Raisins or Dates
 2 ¾ cups Water
 2 Cloves of garlic
 1 tbsp Sesame oil (cold-pressed)
 ½ tsp Crushed red pepper
 1 tbsp Barley miso
 Liquid sweetener to taste

1

Getting started, Miso is similar to peanut butter in texture. It is made of a fermented mixture of soybeans, grains like rice or barley, salt and koji, a mold. Miso can be smooth or gritty; you need to ferment it for a few weeks. In case you are allergic to soy, you can use peanut butter for making the sauce.

2

Soak the dates or raisin in water for an hour till they puff up a little

3

Blend the raisins or dates, soaked in water, with all the ingredients until it acquires a smooth texture. You can put them in a blender or whisk them in a bowl. In case you want it to be thicker and store it longer, add all ingredients with cornstarch to a saucepan and stir, bringing it to a simmer, and cook on low heat until thickened.

4

Store it in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Ingredients

 1 cup Raisins or Dates
 2 ¾ cups Water
 2 Cloves of garlic
 1 tbsp Sesame oil (cold-pressed)
 ½ tsp Crushed red pepper
 1 tbsp Barley miso
 Liquid sweetener to taste

Directions

1

Getting started, Miso is similar to peanut butter in texture. It is made of a fermented mixture of soybeans, grains like rice or barley, salt and koji, a mold. Miso can be smooth or gritty; you need to ferment it for a few weeks. In case you are allergic to soy, you can use peanut butter for making the sauce.

2

Soak the dates or raisin in water for an hour till they puff up a little

3

Blend the raisins or dates, soaked in water, with all the ingredients until it acquires a smooth texture. You can put them in a blender or whisk them in a bowl. In case you want it to be thicker and store it longer, add all ingredients with cornstarch to a saucepan and stir, bringing it to a simmer, and cook on low heat until thickened.

4

Store it in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator for up to a week.

100% Vegan-friendly Hoisin Sauce Recipe

An additional tip for homemade vegan hoisin sauce:

  1. In case you aren’t using a spicy fermented bean paste add hot sauce or sriracha (check vegan status). A pinch of red pepper flakes would also suffice.
  2. For sweetening, you can go for liquid maple syrup (check vegan status) or agave syrup, brown rice syrup, date syrup, regular sugar, etc.
  3. It has been suggested to use cornstarch for thickening, but you may replace it with arrowroot flour, tapioca flour/starch, or potato starch.
  4. To add more flavor to the sauce, you may add gluten-free dark soy sauce (check vegan status) or a balanced mixture of light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. If you are allergic to gluten, use tamari and for a soy-alternative go for coconut amino.
  5. If you are allergic to soy and peanuts, you can use tahini or Chinese sesame paste made from toasted sesame seeds.

Also Read: Is Teriyaki Sauce Vegan and Gluten-Free?

Conclusion

Veganism is motivated by the intention to promote sustainability and the mutual existence of humans with nature. The exploitative ways of extracting animal products or testing ingredients on animals are violent and unethical. A vegan lifestyle ensures that  Recognizing the increasing need for an animal-friendly and environment-friendly lifestyle has multi-faceted benefits in the long run.

However, with increasing attention to vegan products manufacturing and awareness building, you need not compromise on taste while filtering your market choices. Bear in mind that with the rising vegan market, it is obvious that most brands mislead customers. Always confirm any mysterious ingredient in your products if you are a dedicated vegan, navigating through the market, or else, prepare homemade sauce and food to tread safely.  

Tully Zander

My life literally revolves around optimum health and sustainable living by being a devotional vegan. My mission is to create a community of like minded vegans to go forth in creating a better and brighter world for humans, animals and the planet. Just like Gandhi once said: “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi

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