Plums, I love. Mealy plums, I can't abide. And since the baking needed to stop with the zucchini tart (and some nut cakes that I am too ashamed to feature here, although they were delicious!), no pies or pastries could be used to break down my recent CSA supply into the tart and silky delights that are cooked plums. But a sauce-- a plum sauce! That's the ticket.
I wasn't sure that my plum sauce would really resemble what you get at the local Chinese restaurant. I'm always wary that recipes for Asian foods are missing some secret restaurant ingredient (um, MSG?) And already mine would most definitely be missing something -- since star anise is not in the Lemonville spice rack. We'd spent enough last week on groceries, so I figured maybe some leftover fennel stalks could sub in. And boy did they ever.
Serious Eats (a great food hub!) had the same thought about plums and had posted a recipe from Sherri Brooks Vinton's book Put 'Em Up. Aside from the star anise, this was an on-hand recipe list I could deal with and it turned out beautifully. Imagine a tart and spicy ketchup in a gorgeous shade of magenta. And best of all -- it keeps up to three weeks in the fridge. This plumy good sauce will be gracing chicken, vegetables and anything else I can think to put it on.
Fresh Chinese Plum Sauce
1 cup fennel stalk sliced thin (1 Star anise if you have it)
2 lbs. plums, pitted (I had about 15 small dark purple plums)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
In a non reactive sauce pan (stainless steel works), put a small amount of olive oil and the fennel stalks and let them start to cook down. When sliced really thin, this doesn't take too long -- about 4-5 minutes. If you have star anise, obviously you can skip this step.
Cut plums apart and remove pit. Leave the skins on! Add to the pot along with the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, grated ginger and grated garlic cloves. Cook and bring to a boil for about 25 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until pretty smooth. Let cool and store in fridge for up to 3 weeks (If it lasts that long...)