One of the best things about sauces, is that they often can be thrown together quickly, and easily jazzed and juiced up in a trillion ways. They complement all sorts of starches and sides. It’s the surest way to add flavor to an otherwise bland whole grain, a simply steamed vegetable, or naked chicken.
Here, I paired a simple garlic and ginger stir fry of vegetables with chicken I had grilled a few nights before, and married the two in a spicy sweet sesame sauce.
This is my favorite stir fry syrup. I say syrup because the key to a good stir fry, the kind you know and lust after in restaurants, is a thick sauce. You want something that coats your veggies like a luscious lacquer, not something that dribbles, thin and watery, to the bottom of your plate.
The way to get your sauces sticky and standing up rather than running down, is cornstarch. It must be stirred into cool liquid before heating, but once it dissolves into your cold mixed sauce and then comes to a simmer over medium heat, it turns to syrup, a glossy gravy.
This sauce is a cinch to whisk together, and it’s got a fantastic salty but deeply roasted flavor. There’s caramelized sweetness from brown sugar and a heavy zing from fresh ginger.
Here’s my advice for the simplest, most versatile stir fry: whisk together a simple sauce with all the components of brilliant and bright flavor: salty, sweet, spicy, and sour. Add a few teaspoons of cornstarch to that sauce and stir ‘til dissolved. Set the cool sauce aside. Saute your favorite blend of fresh vegetables in a little oil with garlic and ginger over medium-high heat. Pour the sauce over the vegetables just as they’re beginning to turn tender and bring the pan up to a simmer. Reduce the heat and let the mixture bubble gently until the sauce has thickened and coats the vegetables.
Stir in any protein you like, toss to combine and heat through, and serve with steamed white or brown rice.
Sesame Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons grated or minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup bell peppers, sliced very thinly
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup carrots, sliced very thinly
- 1/2 lb cooked chicken (baked or grilled), sliced into strips
- Whisk soy sauce, stock, sesame oil, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan or wok. Add red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic, and stir for 1 minute. Add the remaining vegetables and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, leaving them crisp yet tender.
- Add chicken and stir to heat through. Pour in the soy sauce mixture, stir to coat, and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes, until thickened and glossy.
- Serve immediately.