A rich, dark honey color, this tart-sweet-savory sauce does not resemble the cloying, sticky, bright red sauce that’s often served at Chinese restaurants. You can whip it up quickly to enjoy with snacks such as fried wontons. For spicy tropical flair, use unsweetened pineapple juice instead of water and include 2 teaspoons of minced ginger and a chopped Thai chile with the other seasoning at the beginning.
1Combine the sugar, salt, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a near boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Give the cornstarch a stir and then add it to the pan. Continue cooking, stirring, for about 15 seconds, or until the sauce comes to full boil and thickens.
2Remove from the heat, transfer to a serving bowl, and set aside for 10 minutes to cool and concentrate in flavor. Taste and add extra salt, if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature. Feel free to prepare this sauce a day in advance.