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~All-Purpose Chinese-American Brown Stir-Fry Sauce~

IMG_7877Stir-frying is an ancient cooking technique.  Credited to Asian cuisine, the concept of the stir-fry is easy to grasp.  It's all about fresh flavors and textures, so, pick a protein and choose a few vegetables.  Think small.  Slice 'em thin or dice 'em into small bites, throw 'em all in wee-bit of oil in a hot wok or a skillet.  Stir and fry for a few short minutes.  It's so easy, a novice cook can master it.  That said, the secret to a great stir-fry does lie in the stir-fry sauce, and, this is where a perfectly executed stir-fry can go from excellent to atrocious.  Not too thick and not too thin, my all-purpose, slightly-spicy full-flavored soy-, garlic & ginger sauce removes all the guesswork.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2dc3428970cThere are a two solid reasons why it's hard to duplicate restaurant-quality Chinese food at home:  Their seething-hot gas-fired woks and flat-top grills, and, their knowledge of ancient techniques like velveting (tenderizing) the protein prior to cooking it.  That said, have you ever noticed or questioned how many of your favorite dishes at your favorite Chinese-American restaurant seem to be enrobed in a semi-viscous, glossy, dark-brown sauce? Examples: Beef or chicken with broccoli, chow mien or lo mein, kung pao or General Tso, etc.  It's one of every Chinese restaurant's best kept secrets.  The recipe for their brown sauce.  I have heard it referred to as "the Chinese mother sauce", but, even in China, recipes for it vary from region to region.  I make no claim to my concoction being authentic Chinese brown sauce -- it is not.  What it is, is:  Easy to make, full of Chinese flavors, the perfect consistency, and, unbelievably scrumptious.

The recipe, the ratio, the specifics & how to make adjustments:

My easy recipe makes 1 1/4 cups.  Four to six tablespoons is enough to marinate 1 1/2-2  pounds thin-sliced or diced protein (beef, chicken, pork or shrimp), and, depending upon the recipe, the rest gets added to the stir-fry during the last few seconds.  My 2:1 ratio of soy sauce to equal parts hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Sriracha sauce and sesame oil is a sumptuous mixture.  The addition of garlic- and ginger-paste (which have a long shelf life in the refrigerator) means it's not necessary to press or mince fresh garlic or ginger to the stir-fry because there's plenty in the sauce.  That said, if you're making a recipe that does not call for or is not compatible with garlic and/or ginger (it's rare in a stir-fry, but it does happen), omit one or both of them.  As for the black pepper, which lends a bold, spicy edge, it too can be adjusted or omitted to suit your palate.  To make the sauce thinner and drizzly, add up to 3 tablespoons additional soy sauce, to make it thicker and paintable (to use as a glaze), reduce the amount by up to 3 tablespoons.   

This marinade/stir-fry sauce takes a back seat to none.

IMG_7873For the marinade/sauce (1 1/4 cup -- 4-6 tablespoons for marinade/up to 1 cup to sauce stir-fry): 

6  tablespoons Chinese soy sauce

3  tablespoons hoisin sauce

3  tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce

3  tablespoons Sriracha sauce

3  tablespoons sesame oil

1  tablespoon garlic paste

1  tablespoon ginger paste

1  tablespoon coarse-grind black pepper, more or less, to taste

IMG_7775 IMG_7775~ Step 1.  In a 1-cup measuring container, stir all ingredients together. Use as directed in specific recipe or add to any stir-fry during the last few seconds of cooking process.  May be prepared days or weeks in advance, transferred to a food-storage container with a tight-fitting lid and stored in the refrigerator almost indefinitely.

Try it in my Chinese-American Lo Mein-Style Pepper Steak:

IMG_7857Or in my Chinese-American Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry:

IMG_8075My All-Purpose Chinese-American Brown Stir-Fry Sauce:  Recipe yields a generous 1 1/4 cups.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; spoon

6a0120a8551282970b022ad397c1b6200bCook's Note:  While brown sauce is the most popular stir-fry sauce here in America, some Chinese-American specialty dishes require a specific marinade/sauce.  My recipes for  ~ Two Basic Marinades/Sauces for Chinese Stir-Fry ~ represent two. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


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