Mumbo sauce contains some variation of bottled hot sauce, vinegar, sugar and paprika that is stirred and simmered on the stove for about 20 minutes. There is no one way to make Mumbo sauce, which is a sweet, tangy, spicy sauce that has a flavor somewhere between barbecue sauce and ketchup.
Mumbo sauce recipes can also contain sweeteners other than sugar, such as pineapple or orange juice, and can call for tomato paste rather than ketchup. They may or may not contain soy sauce, ginger and water, and they can be made with either plain white vinegar or dark vinegar. Mumbo sauce originated in Washington, D.C., but the name came from a barbecue sauce first used in Chicago, where it was created and trademarked as Mumbo sauce by Argia B's Bar-B-Q. Some believe the original sauce was brought to Washington by a Chicago native. The Washington variations of the sauce are considered to be some of the few recipes that are indigenous to the city, which is known for its transient population. The sauce is used in many restaurants in the Washington area, including inexpensive take-out places without seating to upscale establishments, and each often uses its own privately held recipe for the sauce. The sauce is typically served on fried chicken and French fries or on the side for dipping.