Because stir fry sauces are honestly just unnecessary.
Here’s how my life works: I’ll go months and months with making lots of healthy foods, have hardly anything processed in my house, then go to Trader Joe’s when I’m super tired or hungry and be like I NEED CANNED TIKKA MASALA. Not that there is anything wrong with this thought, but I’m perfectly capable of making it myself, usually have all of the ingredients on hand, and enjoy cooking. It just hits me sometimes that I want premade stuff. Currently I have TWO jars of premade curry sauce in my pantry from two different stores that will probably sit there for 6 months because I can’t remember for 2 days that I’ve purchased something. Luckily I have two.
All that to say….I don’t ever buy stir fry sauces. I think they serve a place in the world, but I find that making stir fry is so quick and easy that it’s just not worth the extra cost or space in the cabinet to keep sauces around. I love chopping up veggies, whisking sauce together, and seeing dinner finished so quickly because the veggies are just barely cooked so they stay crisp, and the sauce thickens almost immediately from cornstarch.
This particular sauce is very basic in preparation and taste. When I made it the last time, Jay said “this is not a bad thing…but this tastes just like takeout.” I consider this a compliment because no matter how big of a health game we talk everyone secretly loves Chinese takeout, right? Don’t deny me this belief, I can’t be alone in this. But Chinese takeout is one of those things that we eat very rarely for health reasons, so having a similar sauce that you can make super quickly is helpful to curb the sodium cravings.
You need! Soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, beef stock, and cornstarch. The last 2 ingredients aren’t pictured because I am a person who wanders through life with a lot going on all at once and not a ton of focus.
When I make sauces like this I like to use a Microplane grater to grate the ginger and garlic directly into the sauce. I don’t saute it first with the veggies, so having it super teeny means it cooks quickly when the sauce boils and doesn’t taste raw, just very flavorful. If you don’t have a mini grater just mince it up really finely and it’ll be perfect.
To make the sauce, whisk everything together in a dish and set it aside until you’re ready to use it – the sauce goes in after the veggies are mostly cooked.
Stir fry can include anything you want, but I like two or three times the veggies compared to protein. Here I have 1 cooked and shredded chicken breast, 1 small can of bamboo shoots, 1 red bell pepper, 1/2 onion, and 1 large carrot. Color!
Start the stir fry by heating a skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the vegetables.
Stir the veggies for about 3 minutes to brown them at the edges. They should be slightly soft but not mushy at all. Pour in the sauce.
The brown sauce should bubble immediately and thicken. Stir the stir fry for another minute or two, then add the chicken to warm it through. Taste the sauce and add a few more dashes of soy sauce or sesame oil if you’d like, then serve!
I love this with rice, and some sriracha on top never hurt a dang thing. This is definitely one of those recipes that is more a method than a recipe, and can be different every time you make it based on what’s in your fridge that you want to use up.
Here’s to no MSG dinners. Enjoy!
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ inch fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ cup stock (veggie, chicken, or beef, whatever you have!)
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 5-6 cups chopped vegetables and protein, any kind you like (in these pictures I used 1 shredded cooked chicken breast, 1 small can bamboo shoots, 1 large carrot, 1 chopped bell pepper, and ½ onion)
Combine the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, stock, cornstarch, and water in a small dish, whisking with a small whisk or fork so the cornstarch doesn’t have any lumps left. Grate the ginger and garlic directly into the sauce with a mini grater.
Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes until they have softened and charred just slightly.
Pour in the sauce and add the shredded chicken or any protein you’re using. The sauce should bubble and thicken immediately. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to your preference with more soy sauce.
If the sauce seems too thick, splash in a little bit of water to thin it out, about 2 tablespoons at a time.
Serve over cooked rice.