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In English, we have an expression: "the secret sauce" to refer to a trick/hack/essential ingredient to doing something well. Literally, it is easy to see where this comes from – a food can taste very good because it uses a tasty (but little-known sauce). This expression can be used more generally too however (e.g. the "secret sauce" in a formula for financial independence/language study/etc.)

What similar expressions exist in Chinese to express this idea? I am aware of 秘诀 mìjué, but am wondering if there are more interesting/idiomatic ways to say this.

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法门 = 诀窍 = 窍门 (trickest part)

演讲的诀窍 / 窍门 / 法门就是把下面的听众当成白菜. (The trick of speech is imagine listeners as cabbages)

秘诀, 窍门 common words

诀窍 not too common

法门 or 不二法门 literary composition.

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必杀技 critical strike

我要使出我的必杀技了, 伪装成白菜.

(I'm gonna use my critical strike, pretend to be a cabbage.)

看家本事 best skill

这就是你的看家本事? 一颗白菜?

(Is this your best? A cabbage?)

压箱底的, best and secret skill

看来我要使出我压箱底的了, 伪装成土豆.

It seems that I have to use my best and secret, pretent to be a potato.

吃奶的劲 all one's can do

哇! 好强的力量, 我已经使出吃奶的劲了, 土豆的力量太强了.

Wow! What a powerful skill, this is all I can do, how strong the potato is.

  • wow! thanks for all these words and (interesting) sentences as well as saying which words are more/less common – haksayng Aug 10 '17 at 5:59
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秘诀 (secret method) is a good counterpart for "the secret sauce"

but am wondering if there are more interesting/idiomatic ways to say this.

There are some similar terms:

  • 秘方 (secret formula ) mainly refers to 'unique secret medicinal formula'. It can also be used metaphorically to mean "unique method". Example: The government's 秘方 of lower the housing cost but keep the interest rate high is to build more public houses.

  • '絕招' (ultimate technique) is a martial art term. It can also be used as a metaphor for 'unique way'. Example: His 絕招 (unique method) in getting new clients is the 'iPad give-away move'

  • Hey, do you mind translating your examples into full Chinese sentences please and thank you? I am curious about those grammar structures, particularly 'getting' new clients. Would that be using 增? 加 ? – Abe Shudug Aug 8 '17 at 23:13
  • @AbeShudug, 他得到新客户的绝招是免费发放iPad赠品。“His 絕招 (unique method) to getting new clients is the 'iPad give-away move'” – dan Aug 9 '17 at 0:33
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Another expression that can be very interpretive, depending on if you are the lake or river can mean something similar =)

江湖一点诀

I am not a native speaker, so do not quote me on it.

I also seen 要诀.

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The most interesting verbal term I know is 杀手锏, which is something very special or a very unique skill you have over others; the key element to beat others.

Eg: 我还有一个杀手锏.

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