Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mumbo Sauce – Is D.C.’s Secret Sauce the Next Big Thing?

A friend of mine asked me recently if I’d ever heard of mumbo sauce, since she had just returned from Washington D.C., and said it was “everywhere.” I hadn’t, which isn’t a surprise, since unless you’re from the Capital, or select neighborhoods in Chicago, this stuff is virtually unknown.

Apparently, this sweet-and-sour condiment came to Washington D.C. via Chicago, where it somehow became a staple in Chinese take-out restaurants, served as a condiment with fried chicken wings, among other things. That’s as much background as you're getting here, and like many other regional culinary specialties, the history is murky.

All I know is that this was great with fried chicken wings, and I look forward to finding other uses for it, although I’m not sure French fries is going to be one of them. I’m a ketchup guy, and probably too old to change. Having said that, I can see this catching on, and for once, I’ll be ahead of a trend.

They say every takeout place in D.C. has their own secret recipe, but there were quite a few published recipes on the Internet, and so this is sort of a composite, based on the extensive, 20 minutes of research I did. Stay tuned for the chicken wing experiment I mentioned in the video, and in anticipation, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 4 cups of Mumbo Sauce:
1 can (6-oz) tomato paste
2/3 cup ketchup
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

- Please note: Every one of these ingredients is “to taste.”

22 comments:

James Payne said...

Should call it Mumbo Sauce #5

Robalini said...

Ben's Chili Half Smokes is a DC favorite culinary dish...

Frank said...

My vote is for Jumbo Mumbo

Artefaktum Artefaktum said...

This recipe is very similar to a sauce, which is served in Germany to "Currywurst", a sausage with a sweet und hot tomato-based sauce, sprinkled with currypowder. A very popular dish in Berlin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Currywurst

Joy Cable said...

How about using it as a topping for meatloaf? Just a thought, haven't tried it.

Chalkycliffs said...

This year's Halloween (fake) bloood recipe?

C. S. Lewis Society of Frederick said...

You have become my Cooking Guru and now you are trying to fill the role of The Travel Channel as well. I live close enough to DC and am there often enough and am a DC food explorer, but I have never heard of Mumbo Sauce. I will be downtown next week and will have to search for the Mumbo! Go Nats!

Sunny S. said...

You can even find mumble sauce at Chinese takeout places here. I'd argue that the chili at Ben's is far more DC than this, it's definitely ubiquitous!

Julie Biddle said...

I think I'd want to add a little garlic to it as well, but it looks very tasty! It would probably also be interesting on a meatloaf or even with cabbage rolls (my husband's favourite cabbage rolls have a sweet/sour tomato sauce with raisins).

Scott Barber said...

Are you gonna save the chicken bones for a Super Bowl prediction???

James D said...

Chef John, please tell me you were just messing with us about wishing you could think of a better name than Mumbo Grande for your big sauce batch. You of all people certainly thought of Mumbo Jumbo. You are after all, the Dumbo of Mumbo Jumbo!

tom hudelson said...

Chef! I was planning out my pork tenderloin dinner tonight and couldn't decide on a sauce so I decided to try this! It was amazing!

rodentraiser said...

I think I'll try this over chicken breasts tomorrow night and see how it tastes. Thanks, Chef John!

And I hope you're doing OK in all that smoke. My thoughts are with everyone during these terrible fires.

Curlyfat / Matt said...

As someone who hadn't heard of this until a couple months ago on a documentary about it, I can definitively say Chef John nailed it. Or at least, nailed a darn tasty sauce for wings and pizza crust. I made enough that the jar of it will likely be used to dip many more things into. It's acidic, sweet, spicy (I added crushed pepper along with the cayenne), tomatoey, just great. It's if cheap chinese sweet-n-sour sauce had a baby with ketchup and someone threw a bit of spice into it. That sounds less good than I imagined, but trust me as a stranger on the internet. Delicious. Make it. It's cheap to try. Also, halve the recipe if you're not freaking insane.

Randy Doorn said...

...on an overworked, not good bratwurst and beef meatloaf?
i am going to give it a shot

AnnR said...

I can't believe that the best you could come up with was "mumbo grande". What about jumbo mumbo?
I love your videos and your sense of humor! I often go on Chef John binges and watch 10 videos in a row!

James D said...

Didn't like my Mumbo Jumbo joke, huh?

Mithila said...

Hi Chef,

How long can you store this sauce in the fridge?

Thank you!

-Tilla.

Joel said...

I was looking into this sauce a couple of months ago. I'd never heard of it either and can't remember now how I came across it. Probably YouTube surfing.

Anyway, almost every recipe in my 22min of research used hot sauce as part of the recipe. Do you think the cayenne adequately takes care of the need for heat, or if we're looking for that heat, should we add to taste?

Derek said...

could you make a big batch of this and freeze it?

Geoff Kay said...

Hey CJ (can I call you that?)

First, love the sauce. Secondly, where did you get the giant iPhone case? Or is it a regular sized case, and mini culinary tool set?

Spinni said...

I tried this today, on chicken wings. It is pretty awesome but I would suggest to use a milder vinegar. My mumbo sauce had white wine vinegar in it because I don't have distilled white vinegar (I never use it and didn't want to buy some for just one recipe). I still found the vinegar too dominant. Next time I'll try something like apple cider vinegar. Mumbo sauce already has some fruity flavors from the pineapple juice, so the fruity vinegar should work.

Someone in the comments suggested garlic: I don't think this will really work here.

For the Germans: It isn't much like Currywurst sauce, more like ketchup meets sweet-and-sour-sauce.