When you enjoy the delicious meal options at a Chinese restaurant, you are often served several sauces on the side of your meal. Sometimes the options can seem overwhelming, but with a little extra knowledge, you will know exactly what you are ordering and how to use the sauces with various menu items.

Follow this guide to learn about common sauces and the flavors found from different dishes.

Soy Sauce

Dark in color and made directly form soybeans, soy sauce is one of the more common sauces served at Chinese restaurants. The sauce adds a layered salty flavor to meals and is often served as a side option as opposed to cooked within a dish. Add soy sauce to many dishes, including rice and lo mien.

The sauce is heavy on the salt content, acting as an ideal replacement for traditional table salt. Some restaurants may offer a dark soy sauce, which is typically a little thicker due to the addition of molasses.

Duck Sauce

Add a sweet taste to your Chinese meals with a packet of duck sauce. Despite the name, no duck ingredients are used in the orange-colored sauce, but the sauce is an ideal option to drizzle over any duck meat you purchase for your meal.

Duck sauce is essentially a sugar-based sauce, aimed to add sweet layers of flavor to chicken in the same way a honey sauce would. The name varies in locations, as some places will refer to the sauce as plum sauce. The plum sauce refers to the fruit used to create the sauce. Along with plums, apricots are a common duck sauce ingredient.

Some places will also serve a clear or brown-colored sauce, but a majority of the time, the sauce is dyed different colors while the flavors remain.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Used as a dipping option for chicken fingers or drizzled over chicken lo mien, sweet and sour sauce provides a lot of flavor options for Chinese restaurant meals. In some cases, the chicken may be cooked in sweet and sour sauce so the meat really soaks up the flavors.

The sauce will typically have a red hue and includes a combination of vinegar and sugar to create the different flavors. Sweet and sour sauce is a common addition for several seafood dishes, including fried shrimp or crab Rangoon. The sauce is typically served fresh in small bowls or containers.

The best way to know what sauces you will like is to try them out for yourself and see how they taste with a variety of meal options.

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