Best stirfry sauces
April 29, 2022 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I’m in a rut with my usual tofu + vegetable stirfries and I want all your suggestions for sauces to make, especially ones that will work well if I throw some cooked rice noodles into the pan at the end.

My go-to stirfry is usually garlic, onions, carrots, a green vegetable (typically asparagus, green beans, or snap peas) and tofu, served over rice. For the sauce I usually kind of wing it (some combo of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and ginger) or make this sauce from the Kitchn. I just had a lot of rice yesterday so thought tonight I’d cook some rice noodles or maybe some soba and toss those in the pan at the end so I want a tasty sauce that will cling to the noodles. Tell me about what you put in your stirfries and what your favorite sauces are! Difficulty level: I am a big wimp who doesn’t like spicy stuff.
posted by skycrashesdown to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I would suggest searching for miso, gochujang, or doenjang recipes. Miso and doenjang are soy pastes and gochujang is red pepper (but you can scale it down).

Sometimes I just wing it with a paste, vinegar, sweetener (honey, sugar, oligo), onions (usually green onions). You can even add hoisin or oyster sauce too to the mix too.
posted by jraz at 12:54 PM on April 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Fish sauce is a great way to add a funky depth to Asian or Asian inspired food. A splash or two goes a pretty long way.
posted by TurnKey at 12:56 PM on April 29, 2022

My favorite Chinese stir fry sauce. Not spicy but very tasty.
posted by MyTwoCentsToo at 1:10 PM on April 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

I love the Best Chinese Stir Fry Sauce from the Cooking Guy. I double it and keep it in the fridge. The key ingredient that makes it a touch different is the sriracha.
posted by Elsie at 1:13 PM on April 29, 2022

Honey and toasted crushed sesame (or be lazy with tahini, just as good) are great additions to those sauces... also peanuts.
posted by tardigrade at 1:22 PM on April 29, 2022

This isn't an immediate solution to your clings-to-noodles sauce request, but my stir fry situation really benefitted from the Youtube channel Chinese Cooking Demystified. One that might be useful for you in general is the video How to stir fry any vegetable or their Reddit post on how to stir fry anything. Figuring out that I'm not necessarily looking to recreate a takeout style dish helped accomplish a nicer balance of fresh crispness to flavor without things getting soggy.
posted by wakannai at 1:36 PM on April 29, 2022 [5 favorites]

Negi miso - but I find that this amount of miso is pretty salty for me personally, I usually only use 2-3 Tbs.

Kimchi flavored sauce - it's very red but gochujang is not actually very spicy, especially when it's only 1-2 teaspoons. The sauce is overall more tangy than spicy. And maybe a bit thin for stir fry, but the answer to that is to add a bit of corn starch + water solution at the end to thicken it.

The sauce from this soy sauce tofu dish. Well, I love the entire thing except getting the seaweed to stick to the tofu, but I've used the sauce elsewhere, which is in the video description as well:
✤ Sauce (measured by rice spoon)
-2 tbsp soy sauce
-0.5 tbsp of oyster sauce
-1.5 tbsp of honey
-1 tbsp of cooking wine (can be omitted)
-1 tbsp of vinegar
-2 pinches of ginger powder
-0.5 tbsp sesame oil
-2 tbsp of water
It doesn't seem like anything special, idk. Puzzling yet tasty.

The peanut sauce from this cold noodle recipe. I like using goopy natural peanut butter or tahini for this kind of sauce.

The diced tomatoes + fish sauce + sugar + garlic + black pepper part of this Fried Tofu and Pork in Tomato Sauce recipe.
posted by automatic cabinet at 1:38 PM on April 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

Equal parts light soy, dark soy, and mirin, with a few drops of fish sauce, and more sugar than seems reasonable (microwave it in the liquid to dissolve it) is my default non-spicy stir fry. A few sprinkles of MSG, sesame oil, or furikake applied after things are cool can be nice. I call it "pad see ew sauce," but I doubt anyone from Thailand would agree.
posted by eotvos at 1:54 PM on April 29, 2022

I wouldn't cook with it, but adding a yum-yum sauce over the veggies will bring a new flavor profile to your dishes. Might work better with grains rather than noodles though.

You could also try a peanut sauce - that would go great with your veggies. Add some sweet curry powder to the peanut sauce for an added dimension. Bring in a bit of coconut milk, and you've landed in a (very americanized) Thai-inspired flavor.
posted by hydra77 at 1:57 PM on April 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

That basic stir fry sauce is an excellent base. If you want sort of a Thai flavor, take out the wine and sub about half of the soy sauce with Golden Mountain sauce. You can also add tamari paste and/or lime juice to make it brighter/tarter. Oyster sauce does similar things as Golden Mountain but not quite as "Thai" tasting - they're both basically umami bombs. If you want to make it sweet and a little spicy, then sweet chili sauce is nice to add.

(IMO, you probably don't need the stock if you're using oyster sauce/Golden Mountain and I definitely do not think corn starch is optional!)
posted by lunasol at 2:12 PM on April 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I do a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sherry, sesame oil, fish sauce, more ginger, more garlic and a bit of honey or agave syrup. I always wing it, so I can't do quantities, sorry
posted by gaspode at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I do about 6-7 oz chicken broth, a few glugs of soy sauce, a blurp of oyster sauce, a spoonful or two of huy fong chili garlic and a spoonful of cornstarch. I put it all in a jelly jar and shake it up and put it in at the end of whatever I've cooked. Sometimes add a bit more broth if necessary.
posted by vunder at 3:31 PM on April 29, 2022

Peanut butter, kecap manis, coconut cream.
Japanese curry cube, apple sauce, honey, a little water or stock.
Cabbage, mushrooms, ginger, miso paste, kombu dashi.
Sweet chilli sauce, mint and basil.
Ssamjang, soy, sesame oil, water or stock, king oyster mushrooms, green onions.
Fresh chiles, lots of fresh cilantro, lots of butter, salt.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 4:55 PM on April 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

I forgot to add - a sprinkle of furikake on the plate is a great way to add flavour to stir fries. There's lots of variety.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Ad some toasted sesame oil when you serve it.
posted by theora55 at 5:56 PM on April 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

These two are things to add to the pan in addition to whatever else you are using:
Chinese black vinegar is a great addition of acid.
Sesame oil is always a good distinct flavor.

To switch things up, gado gado (Indonesian peanut satay sauce) comes in just add hot water packages. I find this way easier than making my own peanuty sauce at home.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:11 PM on April 29, 2022 [4 favorites]

Oops, where I meant to say tamarind, I said tamari! You use tamarind to brighten something up, not tamari.
posted by lunasol at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

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