American-Chinese cuisine has a lengthy repertoire -- a typical menu at a Chinese restaurant can easily exceed over 60 dishes. This exhaustive list may seem like the work of thousands of years of culinary history, but what you're really looking at is a handful of dishes with multiple variations (Chicken with Broccoli, Chicken with Cashews, Chicken with Garlic).
This is actually a blessing for home cooks. It means that you can easily recreate your Chinese restaurant favorites in your own kitchen -- so long as you know what you're dealing with when looking at Chinese condiments. Take duck sauce, plum sauce and sweet-and-sour sauce, for example. These three sauces are all similar in appearance and in taste. So how do you know when you should use which?
Click through the slideshow below to get to the bottom of Chinese condiments and sauces. You'll be able to cook more confidently in the kitchen (and order more knowledgeably next time you go out for Chinese).