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I love pot stickers. I love them steamed, but even better deep fried. I've tried different brands and they all have a similar dipping sauce. It's hard to describe, but I'm sure a lot of you out there have tried it. I would guess its mostly soy sauce, but I don't taste a lot of salt, so I assume its balance out with something. There is a great tang, so I assume it's got vinegar. Probably rice vinegar or shaoxing. I can almost drink the stuff.

Sadly, there is never enough included in the frozen packages and I've recently decided to start making my own pot stickers. I've seen and tried a few youtube.com recipes for the dipping sauces, but I can't ever find one that's like the Ling Ling dipping sauce or any of the others. They're perfectly adequate, but not what I'm looking for.

My question is, does anyone have a recipe or know what the main ingredients are to make a dipping sauce like these? I don't know what I'm missing. They used to just sell bottles of the sauce for dipping or marinating. They seem to have discontinued it. I even went so far as to get the ingredient list off the bottle which gives me a head start, but doesn't convey amounts or preparation methods. I've seen some sauces where you boil some of the liquid with corn starch before adding other ingredients. I've added the Ling Ling pot sticker ingredients below if anyone has a recipe that gets very close to one of these sauces or can help me replicate it, I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

SOY SAUCE (WATER, SALT, HYDROLYZED SOY PROTEIN, MOLASSES, CARAMEL COLOR) SUGAR, VINEGAR, CHILI SAUCE (JALAPENO PUREE, CHILI FLAKE, CRUSHED GARLIC, VEGETABLE OIL, SUGAR, VINEGAR, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH) COTTONSEED OIL, SESAME SEED OIL, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVATIVE). CONTAINS: SOY

*On the ingredients list, I assume the ingredients in parenthesis are supposed to be the components of the one ingredient that preceeds it. So the water to caramel color are ingredients for the soy sauce. I also know that some ingredients are used commercially and aren't needed for home cooking. Such as the sodium benzoate for preserving. I don't know if that affects the taste or not, though. Again, even though there is a list of ingredients, they can vary wildly in flavor and there may be a prep step I don't know about. Thanks for the help.

8 Answers 8

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I haven't had that specific sauce before, but I've had similar sauces (FYI, if you want to buy the sauce without buying the potstickers, you can buy them in small bottles in Asian food stores).

I don't know the exact ratios, but you can always start with a ratio of 1:1:1 of soy sauce (Kikkoman would do just fine here), rice vinegar (not shaoxing, that's a wine and not a vinegar; I would recommend Chinkiang/Zhenjiang black rice vinegar, but any rice vinegar should do fine), and sugar. Start from there, and adjust as you see fit. You may want to dilute it also; I just made it and it tasted quite strong to me, may want a bit more sugar than 1:1:1.

I would skip the cottonseed oil and just use sesame seed oil - a few drops of good quality sesame seed oil (Kadoya brand, for example) is good enough. Chili oil/sauce - that depends, even Sriracha would work well if you like that flavor; a few drops of that would do.

Have you thought about possibly using a bit of chopped garlic/garlic powder? I've seen it in some of the ingredient lists of the bottled dipping sauces. Just a minor thought if you happen to like garlic - it's perfectly fine to use some in dipping.

Hope that helps!

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    That ratio seems a little high to me on the vinegar especially; I'd personally start with about half that and ratchet up as needed, since brands can vary in their pungency. I can't remember where I learned this, but for the garlic using a microplane grater works very well; you wind up with very small bits of garlic that integrate well into the sauce and really infuse the flavor well. Much easier than super fine chopping. You can use ginger similarly too if you like the flavor.
    – logophobe
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 15:54
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    @logophobe Equal amounts of rice vinegar and soy sauce is perfect. The tricky part is figuring out what other ingredients to add to make it like the Ling Ling brand. I usually use 1 part soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar, a small amount of ginger, and a tiny pinch of onion powder. It doesn't taste exactly like what the OP wants, but it's very good.
    – mrog
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 4:33
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Having spent a number of years living in Tokyo as a university student and trying to live and eat as cheaply as possible, one spends an inordinate amount of time in "chukka ryooriya" (Chinese food restaurants) which are not the nice fancy ones with white table cloths, but are more like small, hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop shops (which are on practically every corner in a college town) whose menus are usually stir-frys and ramens and a variety of sides like fried rice and gyoozas (potstickers). Without exception, gyooza is always served with a little tray of soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil. I've never seen bottled or pre-mixed sauces ever. Mind you these are Japanese-style Chinese fast-food shops.

Anyway, the way it's done in Japan is you start with a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce in a small dish, a splash of vinegar and a few drops of chili oil. The ratio of soy sauce to vinegar is never more than 2:1 because vinegar is rather over-powering, so start with a splash. So the ratios are a matter of personal preference. And of course, some may prefer to pass on the vinegar and/or chili oil altogether.

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I had the same problem...Never enough sauce packets so I make my own now. I use:

1 cup of Yashida's Marinade & Cooking sauce 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup rice vinegar. (Add more if you like) 1 T fresh grated ginger. (Optional) A pinch of red pepper flakes A drop or 2 of sesame oil. (A little goes a long way)

I put all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. This will last in the fridge for months. Excellent with Potstickers and tempura vegetables. Enjoy!

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  • I'll have to give that a try. Do you think this tastes like the potsticker sauce packets that come with them or is this just a version that you like? Thanks.
    – Dalton
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 14:07
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I actually worked as a food safety practitioner for ten years at a frozen potsticker manufacturer who is a direct competitor to Ling Ling. Here's a few things I wanted to point out:

  • The ingredient declaration is listed in descending order of signifigance; i.e., from greatest to least.
  • The ingredients within parentheses and/or brackets are ingredient sub-breakdowns, or otherwise denote some form of separation/encapsulation. Order of significance still applies within the nested breakdowns.
  • While ingredient statements are supposed to be accurate, note that label accuracy is not something that is exhaustively verified/validated by FSIS inspection staff, but rather is expected from the establishment's QA to maintain with due diligence (they may randomly check one once in a while, or they may decide to look at them all, this is based upon their discretion and judgement, but there is an internal policy that addresses frequency and representative verification, and it is also dependent upon current or historic non-conformances or findings). Also note that there is a 15% tolerance for deviation from the label (this particular clause was one I never found a reference to code for, instead it was something my former employer always referred to, so take it with a grain of salt; if anyone can find the CFR for that, that'd be great).
  • Additives that facilitate a specific function or purpose other than as a primary ingredient input require a subsequent declaration for their function. So as you can see for sodium benzoate, it is followed by a (preservative).

Okay, now on to the actual sauce composition. Now, there are facts that I may or may not be able to disclose due to NDA, so I do have to exercise some caution and restraint on my part as not to land myself into any trouble down the road. The following should be acceptable for me to disclose considering the information should be accessible to those who research sufficiently or have a trusted source in the industry. I'm also going to go ahead and assume you are not particular about a clean label variant (otherwise you would likely not be a fan of Ling Ling's).

  • The soy sauce component can be obtained from either LKK or Kikoman. Both have OTC products at your local Asian supermarket or even mainstream retail markets such as Krogers. Rather than vinegar, you may have better luck using a ponzu sauce to get a closer match to sensory. LKK does make custom formulations for industry, but I doubt this would be easily accessible for end consumer purchase. You might ask a regional rep if there is any point of distribution you might be able to obtain these from, as it would save quite a bit of trouble; however, as LKK focuses on shelf-stable sachets, the taste may not be as authentic as the ones provided by the manufacturers.
  • The vegetable oil is likely a soybean oil or a blend; a commonly used B2B/institutional/hospitality brand is "King's salad oil".
  • The modified food starch is likely a modified potato starch, such as Avebe's.
  • The sesame oil is for sensory/aroma; these producers are a bit more of an outlier/niche case, so you may find a lot of variance in specifications and characteristics, as well as varieties depending on where the ingredients are sourced from and whether they have GFSI-level certifications. The producers who are certified are likely coming out of Mexico, which have a milder sensory/aroma profile, in which case you'd want to use more compared to the Chinese suppliers.
  • The satchets produced by the potsticker manufacturers are not shelf-stable, so if you are trying to store them for long term storage, the best practice is to sterilize them by submerging them in boiling water before placing them into freezer storage. When they do go bad, they will visibly bloat.

Unfortunately, the actual percentages are definitely NDA so I cannot disclose that data, but I do hope what I've provided helps you get closer to emulating the taste you prefer? Also, I can't speak for Ling Ling, but if you contact the QA or General Manager at Fortune Avenue Foods and ask, there's a chance they will provide you with a recipe (or a variant of one), though being able to speak Mandarin would increase your chances of obtaining this greatly.

EDIT: Some additional points I forgot to include...

  • Due to recent improvements in production equipmment for potstickers specifically (coming out of Japan and Taiwan, and now some coming out of Korea), note that it is simply not possible to make by hand the same quality and textural/sensory profile as machine made potstickers (regarding skin thickness, filling ratio, etc).
  • Not only do the potstickers themselves vary between cultural targets, the dipping sauces do as well. This means Korean mandoo, Japanese gyoza, Chinese jiaozi, Chinese guo tie, and even regional variants like Taiwanese as opposed to traditional mainland, all have varying recipes and customs. In recent decades, fusion variants have also been under active development.
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Just did this and it's about spot on for Ling Lings sauce. This is for about one serving:

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
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Found this recipe on the lingling website. I think this is the sauce.

Pomegranate Korean BBQ Sauce A made-from-scratch Korean BBQ sauce is sweetened with pomegranate juice and served with Ling Ling Potstickers.

Serves 4 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce 3/4 cup pomegranate juice 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon sriracha 1 tablespoon cornstarch Instructions Prepare the potstickers according to package directions, following the Easy One Pan Prep directions. In a saucepan over low heat, combine barbecue sauce, pomegranate juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha and cornstarch then whisk together. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve with potstickers. Variation: For a milder take on this sauce, reduce or eliminate the sriracha.

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It’s Ponzu sauce for gyoza, has citrus. Kikkoman has two variants, one with lemon, one with lime.

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At work we just do a very straight forward, soy sauce, sugar (good bit of it), chili flake/chilly sauce that is toasted or sautéed.

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