This, truly, is the king of all sauces. I feel almost like I’m doing it an injustice by setting aside only one meager review for such a lofty and complex topic. Indeed, I could fill an entire site with the vast volumes of subtleties, effects, and sheer culinary poetry contained within the single subject of “duck sauce.” And if I thought I’d get more than 10 visitors a year at BenRatesAllDucksauce.com, I might just do it.
The thing most people are somehow unable to understand is that there is a huge, huge difference between the different kinds of duck sauce you are likely to stumble across in your travels. Each brand, each method of distribution, even each method of storage greatly affects the quality of the sweet, sweet sauce you’ll find there. In a way, duck sauce dedication is a lot like wine appreciation. Buying duck sauce at the average American supermarket is a lot like buying a twist-off capped bottle of wine at some backwoods gas station. Many people wouldn’t think twice about it. Many other people would sooner bash themselves upon the head with the bottle than actually partake of whatever disgusting concoction is borne within.
Generally speaking, the best duck sauce is usually the homemade stuff from your local Chinese restaurant. Very few people make the effort to ask about the homemade sauce and usually walk away with high fructose corn syrup packets when the real stuff is only a few feet away.
The second best way to get duck sauce is in the higher end packets. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to find much information on this on the Internet, but suffice it to say that there are many different kinds of duck sauce packets you’re likely to find. “WY” is probably the most popular in the States, and it’s a good sauce, but not a great sauce. “WY” gets a B on the BRIA Duck Sauce Scale, which is a respectable rating but nothing to stash by the caseload in your basement.
Another popular packet brand is the stuff with the panda on the cover (see below), but that brand only gets a C on the scale. This stuff is usually a sign of restaurants that don’t care about their customers, or are actively trying to go out of business.
But even the worst packet is a little better than the horrid generic stuff you find in dusty jars hidden in shadowy corners of western supermarkets. Stay away from these things if you value your ability to taste things — I can’t stress this enough. This junk is duck sauce in name only, and barely even non-toxic from what I’ve heard whispered from past victims. I wouldn’t even feed this garbage to plants.
Now that we’ve covered the enormous differences between the different kinds of duck sauce, why is this sauce better than other, non duck related sauces? That turns out to be a deceptively difficult question and, as most things on this site, open to opinion. Some people, I am sure, consider power bars to be a delicious treat and would rather feast upon them than the world’s most succulent roasted turkey. There are many people who enjoy Jerry Lewis films, and the undying antics of Carrot Top, and would be happier if our airwaves were filled with these personalities all the time. This is to say, plenty of people are crazy, and these people might not think duck sauce is the best condiment in the world. Do you want to be one of these people?
Duck sauce lovers, though, have no need to detract from the glory of this amazing substance by attempting to break it down into its particulars. We quietly understand that the incredible perfect balance between sweetness, spice, and subtle tastebud control is more closely achieved by this food product than by any other. We also understand that there’s so much more to the king of sauces, but also so much that just cannot ever be adequately expressed. The color, texture, and taste all work together in perfect harmony to raise taste sensations that have laid dormant in the human race since the days when nectar and ambrosia covered the hills like clover. This stuff can’t be analyzed — it can and must only be accepted as the miracle that it is. If there were a rating higher than A+, duck sauce would be there