Creative Ways to Use Leftover Duck Sauce Packets from Takeout

You order takeout from your favorite local Chinese joint. Right on. But, after you finish your egg roll and General Tso’s, the bottom of your brown paper bag is littered with a ludicrous amount of extra duck sauce packets. You’re thrilled, because duck sauce rocks, but what can you do with all those orange beauties besides stick ’em in a cupboard and forget about them? Turn them into a marinade.

Duck sauce is commonly made from some combination of plums, apricots, peaches, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and salt. Its thin, slightly sticky, jelly-like consistency gives it the viscosity to be a natural fit for a marinade. Plus, it already contains all the crucial ingredients for success: Salt, oil, and acid. The oil allows it to adhere to food, the salt keeps moisture locked in, and the acidic component of the vinegar tenderizes the meat and further infuses the flavor.

Whatever you choose to slather your duck sauce marinade on, just be sure to marinate in the fridge. Allowing your foods to marinate at room temperature can provide a breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens to spawn. Also, marinate in a plastic bag, or a plastic or glass tupperware. Metal containers can impact the flavor of your marinade.

Clean out your cupboards and amp up your dinner

bowl with duck sauce

You could use your leftover duck sauce packets to whip up a tangy steak marinade with lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Alternatively, extra firm tofu, seitan, or tempeh would all absorb that flavorful marinade; soak it, cube it, and toss it in a plant-based stir fry.

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If white meat is more your style, you could make a simple marinade of duck sauce, hot water, and salt and brush it over chicken breast. Pour your duck sauce marinade over a chicken and roast it in the oven until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Or, turn it into crispy chicken tenders or fried chicken wings. For best results, allow the marinade to sit overnight. You can also use this simple duck sauce combination to marinate veggies. Zucchini, button mushrooms, red and yellow bell pepper, red onion, yellow squash, eggplant, thinly sliced carrots, or broccoli would all fit the bill. You could even marinate fruit for a sweet-savory side dish, like cooked apples or zesty umeboshi.

Try whipping up a sour plum marinade with duck sauce, salt, and the canning liquid from pickled plums. This would be delicious on darker meats like spare ribs or even spam. If you prefer a sweeter marinade, you could combine duck sauce, honey, and soy sauce. Add red chili flakes for heat. This would make a great addition to broccolini, bok choy, or actual duck breast.

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