I don’t think there’s any time of year that isn’t “right” for a fresh, quick stir fry, but I gotta admit I love making them especially in the summer! The thing is, I’m not always into measuring out a lot of ingredients for a sauce and I’m not that thrilled about some of the bottled or packets sauces at the store or the frozen options. They’re always quick and easy but it’s not a biggie to mix up your own “Universal” All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce at home.
Make your stir fry sauce in just about any quantity you’d like, pour it into a bottle and store in the fridge where it keeps well for weeks! And then enjoy “instant” stir fry any time you want with your own favorite fresh veggies and protein picks. No longer are you tied to whatever combos are being sold at the store!
About All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce:
You might be wondering if you use this Stir Fry Sauce won’t every stir fry taste exactly the same? For me that’s not a problem because it’s delish and has just about everything I love in a stir fry already in it. There’s soy, of course, the base of the flavor. There’s Mirin, which is pretty much available everywhere these days and lends a beautiful background note and just a hint of sweetness. Rice wine vinegar (sometimes sold as rice vinegar) wakes up the flavor. A touch of Hoisin rounds it out and adds deep umami depth. And the garlic, ginger, sesame oil along with a touch of red and white pepper add interest.
All these flavors, though, are just the “base” flavor of your stir fry. Think of it like the backbone. Each stir fry you make with this sauce will still shine through with the flavors of whatever ingredients you love. Feel free to tweak your flavors as you cook. If you love garlic or ginger, add more as you stir fry. If you want a little more sweet, add a little more sugar, if you’d like a little more heat, go there! Maybe add a little of your favorite hot peppers or a touch of Sriracha.
Using your Stir Fry Sauce:
The sauce is so versatile, you’ll want to use this on all kinds of recipes and stir-fries. It complements beef, chicken, pork and tofu beautifully and is fabulous with just about any array of veggies. Try it on any stir-fries with noodles or maybe sub this in your fave fried rice recipe.
Just shake your bottle well before using (the cornstarch does settle, but it will come back together, even after weeks in the fridge) and instead of adding in all the little sauces and condiments to your stir fry, use about 1/2 cup drizzled in at the end of the recipe. As you stir, toss, or simmer for a minute. the stir fry sauce thickens and coats everything with a luscious, glossy sauce.
The amount of sauce you’ll want to use is going to depend on the amount of ingredients in your stir fry. Most of our American type stir fry recipes follow a kind of rough “formula.” To serve 4 to 6 you can expect 12 ounces to a pound of protein and about 2 to 3 cups of veggies of some sort, and if noodles are involved, usually there are fewer vegetables and sometimes less protein but the total amount ends up about the same. A half a cup will usually be just fine for stir-fries of this size but use a little more or less depending on your quantities and your personal taste. If you’re interested in upping your stir fry game, check out this article by Cook’s Country.
I already touched on some of the ingredients, and there are quite a few ingredients in the sauce, even though I “distilled” what I think are the essential basic ingredients in a fabulous stir fry. There’s just no getting around that for the complex flavors in any stir fry, you end up pulling out a lot of bottles and jars. It’s nice to do it once, though, and then reap the benefits for future meals!
This sauce, btw, will keep literally for weeks with no problem at all. Even though there are a couple of fresh ingredients, the garlic, and the ginger, the acidic ones basically preserve them much like a brine preserves a pickle. If you have any concerns, they could be substituted with garlic and ginger powder.
The nice thing about the ingredients used in the sauce is that most all keep well, too. The soy, vinegar, and mirin are shelf-stable and keep at room temperature. The sesame oil will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge (bring it out ahead if it solidifies or if you’re in a time crunch, zap in the microwave for about 5 seconds) and hoisin, like many condiments, can sit in the fridge for as long as you’re comfortable, weeks to months. Ginger can be stored in the freezer; it may get a little frosty looking but it will be fine. I don’t even thaw when I use it, just pull it out and grate it as is. I don’t peel it either since grated, the peel is so fine it makes no difference.
Most of the ingredients here are going to be available at any well-stocked grocery, but I know from my years helping out my folks in rural South Dakota to never assume anything! I’ll give you some substitutions, below.
Sherry is often used for Mirin in many recipes, but if you can use Mirin, all the better. Mirin is sweet and a low alcohol cooking wine sold with other condiments, usually in the Asian section of your store if you have one. Seek it out if you haven’t before and see if you don’t find your stir-fries tasting better.
The white pepper isn’t in everyone’s spice cupboard. If you haven’t been using it, try it. It’s going to add the elusive flavor you might have been missing from many of you Asian recipes. Any spice I don’t use often I try to buy in whole form and grind. The whole spices will keep literally for years in a dark, cool cupboard.
Saving Money on All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce:
If you follow me, you gotta know that shopping for me is very strategic. I keep my cupboards and pantry stocked to the point that if I can wait out for a sale or the best price on almost any ingredient. I pretty much shop sales for anything and everything long before I run out so I’m not forced to pick up items when I need them and pay full or less than a stellar sales price. If you get in the habit of buying extra pantry items at a low, every time the price is great, you’ll find yourself stocked up in no time.
Any Asian ingredients, though, are generally going to be less at an Asian market (and you may find surprisingly low prices on many items.) If you don’t have one nearby, the best time to stock up and purchase condiments that go in this sauce is around the Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year, which varies every year, and is usually late January to early February. Keep it in mind. If you shop well for your ingredients, the price to make this stir fry sauce will beat the pants off any purchased sauce even though it may be an initial outlay of cash. Keep in mind that if you love to cook Asian leaning recipes you’ll use many of these ingredients over and over.
As for the other ingredients in your stir fry, let the season and the sales be your guide. Often great sales are clustered before holidays, especially great prices on proteins. Watch the sales and stock your freezer. You can see the best food holidays and what might be on sale prior to any of them on my post, Win at the Grocers.
When summer heats up (and boy has it been a hot one) I often turn to quick & easy no effort stir-fries. They’re light enough to be appealing and flavorful enough to keep you interested when the heat seems unbearable and you hardly feel like eating, let alone cooking!
Stay well out there and stay safe!
All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: about 1 1/2 cups 1x
- Category: Condiments
- Cuisine: Asian
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Mirin
- 1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 3/4 teaspoons grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely minced
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 good pinches white pepper
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup water
In a bowl or wide-mouthed jar, add the soy, mirin, rice vinegar, hoisin, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, white and red pepper. Stir or lid and shake if using a jar. In a small cup, add the cornstarch then drizzle in cool water, stirring with a fork until the mixture is well blended. Add to the rest of the ingredients. Note: If it is difficult to transfer all the cornstarch mixture, use a little of the sauce to pour back into the cup, stir, and then pour back into the sauce.
Stir well or shake sauce ingredients together. If made in a bowl, transfer to a jar or bottle. Store in the refrigerator. Keeps well for several weeks. Mixture will settle; stir together before using.
Use about 1/2 cup per standard stir fry, added after all ingredients are cooked. Simmer for about 1 minute while stirring or tossing ingredients together with the sauce.
Keywords: Asian, Bargain Meal of the Week, Chinese, Condiments, Ginger, Hoisin, rice vinegar, Soy, Stir Fry, Vinegar