Lay down a delicious flavor foundation to your Chinese influenced dishes with Stir Fry Sauce! This savory master sauce is a kitchen hack that will speed up any stir fry project!
Stir Fry Sauce – Two Delicious, Time Saving, All Purpose Chinese Sauces
I grew up eating Americanized Chinese food. In fact, a family trip to the Chinese buffet was quite a big deal for me when I was a little kid in Quebec. The steam trays packed with chicken and broccoli and moo goo gai pan seemed so exotic, and were loaded with intensely rich flavors. I’d take trip after trip to the buffet, a fresh plate in hand, stuffing myself long after the rest of my family had popped open fortune cookies (and maybe loosened a belt). It wasn’t until much later that I started to notice a common underlying thread in those flavors. The tastes differed from dish to dish, of course. But there was a basis of common flavor that later seemed to sprout in different directions depending on the recipe. Yep – even when I was tiny I was food obsessed!
A Solid Foundation
Fast forward to… well, now. Turns out that the sauces that laid down the base of flavor for a lot of the Chinese dishes I grew up loving was the same. No… the dishes didn’t all taste the same. But, once the foundation flavor was set, other recipe-specific flavors were built up depending on what the dish called for. I’m sure there’s a fancy name for this base-sauce – but I just call it Stir Fry Sauce! And much like the five mother sauces that are the building blocks of French cooking, my stir fry sauce is a tool I commonly use to lay down a base of flavor in my own Chinese influenced dishes. Whether I’m making tofu, beef, veggies or noodles, my jar of easy-to-use stir fry sauce is always within arm’s reach! Pre-mixed and always delicious. What’s not to love?!
The idea behind stir frying is a simple one. You quickly toss fresh ingredients in a small amount of super-hot oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir fried veggies end up retaining a perfect soft crunch, and meat gets a quick sear without drying out. The limited time the ingredients spend in the wok means that using an already mixed stir fry sauce will add a ton of flavor in a short amount of time. Give it a shake and a tumble in the wok. Then you’ll be ready to plate up and move on to the other elements of your meal.
I See the Light
I rely on one stir fry sauce for lighter dishes that are chicken, seafood or veggie based. There is a savory element from soy sauce and oyster sauce – a toasted nuttiness from sesame oil – and just the slightest garlicky pop from the use of minced garlic. Shaoxing wine adds a dry brightness – and a bit of cornstarch means the sauce will thicken slightly without becoming gloppy.
Embrace the Dark Side
For a stir fry that calls for a darker, thicker, gravy-like sauce, I lose the garlic and use dark soy (instead of regular). I also add a bit more oyster sauce and double down on the cornstarch. This second stir fry sauce is perfect for richer beef based dishes – or any dish where the sauce should penetrate the bed of rice it is served with. Yep – my stir fry sauce arsenal is a grand total of two master sauces. However, they are effective. They’re all I need!
Having stir fry sauce on hand not only speeds up the cooking process, it frees you up to experiment and get creative with the flavors that come next. Get in there and have some fun! Once you’ve laid the foundation of the dish, the tasty finishing touches you make afterwards can be spectacular! What’s your favorite delicious time saver in your kitchen? I’d love to hear about your kitchen hacks in the comments!
Other simple, delicious Chinese influenced recipes:
- Szechuan Chicken
- Hunan Beef With Cumin
- Singapore Chow Mei Fun
- Bok Choy With Garlic and Oyster Sauce
- Char Siu Style Roasted Eggplant
Did you like this Stir Fry Sauce Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!
- Combine ingredients in a jar and shake well. Generally, the cooking ratio is about ½ cup stir fry sauce per 4-5 cups of ingredients (tofu, veggies, beef, noodles, etc). You can store this stir fry sauce in the fridge for about a week. Shake the container well before using each time.
- Combine ingredients in a jar and shake well. Generally, the cooking ratio is about ½ cup stir fry sauce per 5-6 cups of ingredients (tofu, veggies, beef, noodles etc). You can store this stir fry sauce in the fridge for about a week. Shake the container well before using each time.