The Perfect Stir-fry Sauce—Two Ways

I need to talk about stir-fry sauce.

This has been a source of consternation for E and I for several years now, because we love to stir fry. It’s simple, quick, useful, healthy, and much better than calling for takeout whenever the mood strikes (which for me happens way more often than it should. It is also a fabulous way to use up those on-the-edge things that live in your vegetable bin–half an onion in a plastic container, old scallions, bunches of cilantro, last week’s broccoli, that remaining half head of cabbage, celery and carrots you’d like to refresh…

We have tried to incorporate a stir fry in our weekly menu plan, but sometimes we just seem to avoid it because it’s hard to get the sauce right consistently–and there’s not much worse in meal prep than a bad stir-fry sauce.

Problem solved!

It’s so simple you’ll wonder why you haven’t run across this before–I know I did. But now I have the solution, courtesy of Pinterest and a website called buildyourbite-dot-com and it’s curator, Joy Shull.

It’s perfect. Cruise on over there and have a look (

Thank me later,

So here’s the plan for the perfect–and adaptable–stir fry sauce. I have made it two different ways, regular and extra-spicy. Joy’s recommendation is to make it this way, uncooked and storable, and to always start your stir fry with fresh minced garlic and ginger. I concur. But I have found that it is a brilliantly conceived sauce base to add rice wine, peanuts, fresh basil or Thai basil, fish sauce, Star-anise, Chinese Five Spice, hoisin or plum sauce–whatever flavors your heart desires. And, of course, your favorite protein. A little goes a long way–about 2 tablespoons is right for a 2-4-serving stir fry. Too much is probably too much. Taste as you go.

I particularly like it on shredded cabbage with a tiny little bit of red onion, but that’s just me.

Just stir fry. Often.


1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp light soy sauce (gluten free if you wish)

1/4 cup toasted sesame-seed oil (hot-chili-sesame oil for the spicy version)

1 tablespoon cornstarch


Add the soy sauce and cornstarch to a Mason jar and shake WELL until combined.

Remove the lid, add the sesame oil and shake WELL again, to completely combine.

Then commence stir frying: start with a bit of peanut or other neutral oil in a HOT pan or wok, add the garlic and ginger and stir for ONLY 30 SECONDS, then immediately start adding your other ingredients, starting with the hardest or firmest, and working toward the most delicate. If including a protein, do that first, remove to a plate and set aside before adding produce.

When the produce is almost done–still crisply is best–add the protein back, toss to combine, and add the sauce and whatever other flavor ingredients you wish. Toss to coat and until the sauce starts to thicken. Then turn off the heat. My chef/mentor taught me to always add one tablespoon rice wine–off heat–and toss before serving. Take that for what it’s worth.

The stir-fry sauce can be stored at room temp in an airtight glass container, but must be shaken well before using, because the cornstarch will settle out.

About Cheff

Lancaster Eats highlights the best resources our community has to offer. From farmers to markets to vendors to retailers, we highlight those members of our wonderful food community who are striving to improve the presence of the commercial and retail food industry for all the citizens of Lancaster. The food we eat and drink is important to every single one of us, and we believe that everyone is entitled to safe and healthy food and drink. We hope to engage the citizens of our city and county who care about the food we eat and the environment in which we live. We know there are many people in the community who are doing wonderful things that benefit the people of Lancaster, as customers and consumers. We hope you will let us know who they are so that we can learn and inform those who eat and drink. That, as we know, is all of us. We are all in this together. Let's build a community.

Posted on January 31, 2021, in Recommendations. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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