‘Little Black Dress’ of Stir-Fry Sauces

Every now and again, when we take stock of what’s hanging around in our refrigerator(s), we realize there is an overabundance of fresh produce that needs to be cooked up before it becomes compost fodder. With leftover cooked veggies we’ll make a “clean-out-the-fridge frittata… but I’m talking fresh produce here…

I think I was in the hoarding mentality the last time I grocery shopped due to the overwhelming amount of veggies I scarfed up without any real meals planned. When that rare occurrence happens, it’s time for a stir-fry—which of course calls for a sauce to bring it all together and add loads of flavor. I love my veggies, but they can be a bit bland by themselves.

We have this reliable sauce recipe from Sam the Cooking Guy, and it’s simple without any hard-to-source ingredients. When it comes to garlic, we have a predilection to over-indulge, and this time was no different. But the difference was, while I was mixing the ingredients for the sauce, the The Hubs had grabbed the minced garlic and ginger and was flipping them around in the wok before I was able to incorporate them into the sauce. No biggie, it all went into the stir-fry in the end.

The recipe below shows approximate amounts for the veggies and meat because I didn’t weigh anything and just used up what we had on hand. Feel free to alter your choices to address your own preferences. It’s equally good for any protein such as chicken, beef, pork, tofu and seafood. You can also switch out vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Maybe you have no reason to don your “little black dress” during the COVID-19 lockdown, but why not dress up your stir-fries and make things a bit special at home?

Best Chinese Stir-Fry Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 6-8 cups raw veggies, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs. protein (such as chicken breasts), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3+ Tbsp. Peanut oil for stir-frying
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or even water
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Scallion green slices and peanuts for garnish (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice


  1. Combine all ingredients from garlic through cornstarch in a small bowl and mix well.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to the wok until very hot. Swirl it around the wok and add your less dense veggies first, such as scallions, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Stir-fry for 2 minutes until the veggies get crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Remove to a large bowl.
  3. Add another 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and once hot, add the more cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli florets. Stir fry for 2 minutes until starting to brown on the exterior. Add 1/2 cup water and cover the wok for 2 minutes. Then remove the cover and stir-fry until all of the water dissipates. Remove them to the bowl with the other veggies.
  4. Add the final 1 tablespoon of oil, and when very hot, add your chicken (or other protein), but do not disturb for the first minute. Once the chicken has a nice sear on the one side, stir-fry continuously until the protein is cooked through.
  5. Push the chicken up the sides of the wok to create a “well” for the sauce mixture. Pour in the sauce and swish it around in the well for about 30 seconds to thicken.
  6. Return all of the cooked veggies to the wok and stir-fry another 1 or 2 minutes until everything s mixed well and hot.
  7. Serve over hot cooked rice and garnish with sliced scallion greens and peanuts if desired.


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