A Northeastern favorite — the garlicky, sweet Ah-So Sauce.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
Sticky, sweet, and instantly recognizable thanks to its neon-red hue, Ah-So Sauce has long been a staple for New England fans of American-style Asian cuisine. Sold in both traditional jars and modern handy squeeze bottles, the garlicky sauce-meets-marinade with the green and white label has been adding Asian-inspired zip to Yankee dinner tables and barbecues for decades with its signature appearance and flavor.
Are you as surprised to learn about the Ah-So/New England connection as I was? To help grow these classic New England foods-related posts, we often ask our Facebook fans which New England-made food brands they can’t live without, and the answers are always an entertaining mix of predictable and surprising. We know, for example, that our fans (whether born here, living here, or Yankee in spirit) love their lobstah, New England Clam Chowder, baked beans, and the New England hot dog bun, but we also hear from transplanted New Englanders about brands they miss. Having lived here my whole life, I’m often blissfully unaware of what doesn’t exist on store shelves outside of southern New Hampshire. Maybe you are, too.
One of those brands is Ah-So Sauce. It claims to be “New England’s Best-Selling BBQ Sauce,” but Ah-So isn’t made in New England (it’s manufactured by Allied Old English, Inc. which is based in New Jersey). Still, the sauce’s primarily northeastern distribution puts it on the list of foods associated with the region, and enough folks mentioned it by name as something they can’t get in Georgia or Colorado (but wish they could) that we thought it deserved a spot on the list.
Never had Ah-So? The contents of each jar are shockingly red, achingly sweet (the top two ingredients are high fructose corn syrup, followed by corn syrup), and flavored with a touch of garlic, but that’s all part of Ah-So’s retro charm. It’s not classy and it’s not trying to be. Just slather it onto your meat of choice (ribs, pork, chicken, meatloaf, etc.), bake or grill low and slow so the sauce won’t burn, then get the stack of napkins ready.
As you can see here, I went with chicken wings.
After an hour in the oven, with several pauses to flip the wings and baste them with a little more sauce, things were looking good. The sauce cooks down to a thick glaze, which might not be fun for the dish-washer (which is a person in my house), but lends an addictive texture and flavor to the meat.
Are you a fan of Ah-So Sauce? If you’ve moved away, do you miss it? And what’s the best way to use it? Let us know, and happy finger-licking and dish-washing!
This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.