Chinese Vegetable Stir Fry Sauce

Sauteing vegetables in a wok
Dave King / Getty Images
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: about 1/2 cup (3 to 4 servings)
Ratings (25)

A vegetable stir fry is only as good as its sauce, so it's important to prepare one with the right balance of ingredients. This recipe includes oyster sauce, rice wine, sugar, and chicken broth, and is thickened by a cornstarch slurry. It works well with almost any fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, bok choy, bell peppers, and baby corn. If you like to enhance the appearance of the finished dish, you can top the stir-fried vegetables with toasted sesame seeds.

What You'll Need

  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Optional: 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

How to Make It

  1. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth or water, oyster sauce, rice wine or sherry, sugar, and black pepper.
  2. In a separate small bowl, stir the cornstarch into the water. Keep both bowls near the stove.
  3. Stir fry the vegetables of your choice. Once the vegetables are done, push them to the sides of the wok.
  4. Give the sauce a quick re-stir and pour into the middle of the pan. Bring to a boil.
  5. Give the cornstarch/water mixture another stir and pour into the sauce, mixing quickly to thicken.
  1. Stir to combine the vegetables with the sauce. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
  2. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve, sprinkling the sesame seeds over if desired.

Recipe Tips and Variations

  • It's important to follow the directions when adding sauce to a stir-fry. If you add it along with the vegetables, then the vegetables will not be able to crisp up and obtain a crunchy exterior; instead, they will end up simmering in the sauce and simply get soft and mushy. You also want to wait to add the cornstarch slurry so the rest of the sauce ingredients have had time to come to a boil; otherwise, the ingredients won’t blend properly and will not have a nice balance of flavors.
  • The cornstarch helps thicken the sauce and mixing it with water first (called a cornstarch slurry) prevents the cornstarch from becoming lumpy when it combines with the sauce. Sesame oil is best when added at the end of a recipe as a finishing touch; it has a low smoke point so will easily burn when in contact with high heat, as in a wok. The flavor is very concentrated so only a little bit is needed.
  • If you are stir frying different types of vegetables, there are some techniques you'll want to implement to assure a successful dish. Keep in mind that certain vegetables will take longer to cook than others, and cutting them into even sized pieces as well as adding them to the wok at different times are ways to help them cook at the same rate. You also want to be sure to continue moving the vegetables around the pan to keep them from burning.
    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    11 Calories
    0g Fat
    2g Carbs
    0g Protein
    (Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)