Mumbo Sauce - D.C.'s Famous Sweet & Sour Sauce


A flavorful mumbo sauce recipe. 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. This is my version.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
10 mins
Additional Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
4 cups


  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

  • cup ketchup

  • cup white sugar

  • 1 cup pineapple juice

  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Place tomato paste, ketchup, and sugar in a saucepan. Pour in pineapple juice, vinegar, lemon juice, and honey into the pan. Add soy sauce, grated ginger, and cayenne pepper. Whisk together thoroughly. Place pan over medium-high heat. As soon as mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

  2. Remove pan from heat; allow to cool about 10 minutes or so. Pour sauce through a fine strainer to eliminate solids.

    close up view of Sweet & Sour Sauce in a glass bowl on a wooden cutting board, with a spoon
    Chef John

Chef's Note:

All ingredient amounts are "to taste," so feel free to experiment.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

157 Calories
0g Fat
41g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 157
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 618mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 22mg 108%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 376mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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