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I've recently started learning to cook stir fry, and I'm interested in what types of sauce are recommended. I typically cook a mixture of chicken or beef, spinach, broccoli, carrots and onions. Sometimes I put in some garlic.

I've tried Yoshida's Sauce, general teriyaki sauce and peanut thai sauce.

What types of sauces do you recommend? I'm looking for general flavors for a stir fry.

Thanks for your help.

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8 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you're buying them from the store, any of the following are decent:

  • Teriyaki sauce/marinade
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Chili black bean sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Satay (peanut) sauce

However, it's really a lot tastier (and cheaper!) if you make it yourself. I usually use some variation on the following:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp light soy sauce or teriyaki
  • 1-2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • (optional) 1-2 tsp chili oil
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch (test a bit of sauce; if it doesn't thicken right, add more)
  • Minced or grated ginger, to taste
  • Minced or grated garlic, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar, honey or maple syrup

The proportions are all pretty rough because I always eyeball it, and because ingredients vary (I can't always get the same brands or sometimes I'm missing one or two). I kind of eked out this formula after a few years of stir-frying, so I don't even really think about it anymore. It usually tastes great though, and I've even gotten several comments to the effect that it smells great (I think the sesame oil is what does it).

P.S. You can substitute corn starch for tapioca, but you'll have to use a little more of it, and the sauce doesn't tend to be quite as smooth or consistent. It'll work in a pinch, though, or if you can't find tapioca in your area.

P.P.S. When I make this, it usually makes a little more than a cup. What I tend to do is marinate and stir-fry the meat separately in a separate, simpler sauce (honey teriyaki works great), then half-stir-fry and half-steam the vegetables using half the sauce, so they get nice and tender. Then add the meat and the rest of the sauce and stir fry for about a minute or two longer. This gives you a nice balance of flavour infusion and extra sauce that you can use for rice.

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Yes 1000 times to fresh ginger. Also mirin works nicely with the other ingredients you mention. –  ydant Jul 19 '10 at 19:44
Also Black bean, Oyster, and of course Soy sauce –  user2215 Jun 27 '11 at 6:37
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Make your own. Have some of the following on hand:

  • Soy sauce
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Hot bean paste
  • Black bean paste (Dow see)
  • Rice wine or sake
  • Sesame oil
  • Chili paste
  • Fish sauce (if you like Thai/Vietnamese style)
  • Vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Anjinomoto (MSG)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

By combining (some of) these, you can make many simple dishes. Throw away the recipes, don't be to heavy handed.

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+1: for me, good soy sauce (the quality makes a huge difference), black bean paste and sesame oil is what I use most of the time. –  Joel in Gö Jul 19 '10 at 19:25
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For a simple stir fry, I normally would just use some soy sauce. It lets the flavors of the other vegetables and meat come out really well, but gives it a quite salty taste.

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Two suggestions: take 1/4 of a cup of soy sauce, and mix in two tablespoons of sesame oil and some garlic; or take 1/4 of a cup of soy sauce, and mix in one or two tablespoons of curry powder.

To make a thicker, Chinese restaurant type sauce, add three tablespoons of cold water (it can't be warm) and one tablespoon of cornstarch.

Add to stir fry one to two minutes before removing from heat.

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Teriyaki is a great sauce for stir fry. To make a basic teriyaki sauce just mix 1/2 cup of soy sauce and 1/2 cup of mirin rice wine with a teaspoon of fresh grated garlic, a teaspoon of ginger and a teaspoon of sugar. Bring it up to a simmer and let it reduce until it's about 5 tablespoons worth.

When you stir fry, be sure to get the pan as hot as possible before introducing the food. This is what gives stir fries their great flavor. Once the food is just about done, add the teriyaki sauce. Don't add it in the beginning as the sugar can burn.

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Its a bit on the pricy side, but I really like the House of Tsang Szechuan Spicy sauce.

My typical recipe is something like:

  1. Fry some Tofu if you want it vegetarian
  2. Blanch some broccoli or other larger/crispier vegetables
    1. Boil enough salt water to submerge the broccoli
    2. Add the broccoli for around 45 seconds to a minute
    3. Drain the broccoli and run it under cold water (or better yet put it in ice water)
  3. If you want meat (I love meat, but actually prefer this recipe with just tofu), start frying it in a wok with some pre-heated oil.
  4. In another wok with pre-heated oil add things like onions (I prefer green or vidalia), sliced bell peppers and a little bit of garlic. Pour a little bit of soy sauce in if you like too.
  5. The meat probably needs to cook a little bit longer than the vegetables, although if you slice it thinly enough you can cook the meat with the vegetables (combine steps 3 and 4). Otherwise try to time things so the vegetables will have about a minute to cook before the meat is fully cooked.
  6. Mix the meat, tofu and vegetables (including the broccoli) in one of the woks, add some of the Szechuan sauce (not too much, its a little spicy) and cook for another 30 seconds or so. If you cook too long the broccoli will tend to get too soft.

Really the key is blanching the broccoli, the rest of it is fairly straightforward.

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I like to make teriyaki, sweet and sour, and sesame ginger stir-fry's.

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Mother's Cantonese Stir Fry Recipe

This is my mothers Cantonese secret ( now not anymore ) stir fry sauce. Pretty easy to remember and everyone loves it. She's made this for me for about since when i was little (20+ years); so she's had time to perfect it:

Serving Size

This is best used for a huge 12" pan of vegetables and your select meat. Sorry it's not really really precise!


  • 1 TBSP Corn Starch
  • 1 TBSP Oyster Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • Pinch of salt 1 TSP Sugar
  • 3/8th to 1/2 cup of cold water (Depends on how thick you want the sauce)


Using a small bowl add wet ingredients first then add your corn starch, sugar, salt. It'll > look a little brown. You'll want to add this at the end when your pan is really hot and > you're about done with your cooking.

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