Monday, July 28, 2014

Basic Stir Fry Sauces



One of the greatest things about creating a stir fry is that you don't really have to HAVE anything to make one. There are the ultimate "anything goes" dinner.  We recently got back from a little weekend away and I needed to make something to use up all the odds and ends we were left with from vacation food. 


So I emptied the fridge (which was really just full of stuff I emptied from the cooler) and put it all out on the counter. The only problem that I run into when making a stir fry is that I get stuck when it comes to the sauce.  I'll be honest with you, I have really screwed up the sauce before and completely killed dinner. I have made almost all the mistakes you can make - I have made it too spicy, and way to bland, I have made it with so much vinegar it bites you back and one time I even made it way too "fishy" - that was a disaster no one wanted to eat. 

So I gathered a little collection of basic stir fry sauces. You can still make up your own and be super creative, but for those of you who are like me and your creativity isn't always edible - here is a starting point. 




Lemon Stir-Fry Sauce – Great with seafood stir fries, such as shrimp and/or scallops, as well as chicken.
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
• • •
Lemon Stir-Fry Sauce II – nice with chicken and seafood.
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 -3 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
Optional: red pepper flakes
• • •
Soy Sesame Stir-Fry Sauce – good all-round Asian sauce, suitable for all proteins.
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sugar
• • •
Basic Stir-Fry Sauce – good all-round sauce.
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup rice wine or rice vinegar
3 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
• • •
Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce – great with chicken and pork.
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider or rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
• • •
Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce II – great with chicken, pork, beef and shrimp.
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
• • •
Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce III – great with chicken, pork, beef and shrimp.
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup pineapple juice (or addition 1/4 cup water)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
• • •
Hot and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce – good all-round sauce.
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. chile paste (sambal oleek)
• • •
Thai Stir-Fry Sauce – great with chicken or shrimp.
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/3 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
2 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
• • •
Peanut Stir-Fry Sauce – perfect for noodles or chicken.
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 tsp. granulated sugar (less if not using natural peanut butter)
4 tsp. natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp. water
2 teaspoons Asian chili garlic paste
Combine all ingredients and heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds.
• • •
Orange Stir-Fry Sauce – nice with chicken and pork.
3/4 orange juice
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
2 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. Oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. Rice vinegar
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Finely grated orange zest
• • •
Orange Stir-Fry Sauce II – nice with chicken and pork.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 tsp. brown sugar
1 green onion, finely chopped
• • •
Spicy Orange Stir-Fry Sauce – great with chicken!
3/4 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
1/2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil
Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper, or to taste
• • •
Orange Sesame Szechuan Stir-Fry Sauce – nice with chicken.
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar or rice wine
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 fresh red chili, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or 1/2 tsp. sambal oleek)
• • •
Spicy Szechuan Stir-Fry Sauce – great all-round spicy stir fry sauce.
3-4 Tbsp. sodium-reduced soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine or rice vinegar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp.sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. green onion, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chili paste (sambal oleek or chili paste sauce with garlic)
• • •


Tips:
  1. Some of these sauces already have cornstarch added but if they don’t, you can use this to thicken any sauce that you think is too thin. Simply combine 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. water and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add a bit, stir and cook until sauce thickens. Add more as necessary.
  2. Consider using low-sodium chicken broth and soy sauce to avoid an overly-salty finished dish.
  3. Each of these sauces makes 1/2 – 1 cup of stir fry sauce. You may not need it all, depending on the amount of meat, noodles and/or vegetables you are stir frying. Add as necessary to make it as saucy as you like and thicken with the thickener above, if desired. Of course, you can also double the sauce if you’re making a lot of stir fry.
  4. Some of these sauces already contain things like minced garlic, ginger, onion or chilis (or other heat) but if they don’t, be sure to consider adding some into your stir fry.
  5. Everyone’s tastes are different so you will likely want to tweak the sauces to your tastes. If you print out the list, you can simply make notes as you go to develop your perfect sauce.


Once you have chosen your sauce, all that is left is to throw everything together.  We chopped up the veggies so they were in a uniform size, since we were dealing with leftovers some were in big pieces and some were smaller. Making everything roughly the same size ensures that things will cook evenly and you won't end up with some crunchy and some mushy. 


 Then we tossed it all into the electric skillet. I needed to use the biggest pan that I have so that the pan could stay nice and hot and so that I would have room to stir everything around without it flying out of the pan.



 Dinner turned out amazing, all the vacation leftovers got used up and best of all - everyone got full bellies.