It’s All About the Sauce

Some of my earliest childhood memories center around Asian food. But not just any Asian food. I’m talking about the food at The Golden Dragon Restaurant in Boise Ida., city of my birth and the home of noodles and spare ribs swimming in the most beautiful and delicious brown sauce.

To my 5-year-old sense of fine cuisine, that dish was to die for. My favorite thing in the whole, wide world!

For me, it was all about the sauce. Brown sauce. Yummy, amazing make-my-mouth-water kind of sauce. I poured it on my noodles; would eat it with a spoon like soup. I can remember exactly what it tasted like, too. It was definitely brown, kinda’ sweet but a little tangy and shiny—not clear like broth but not dense like gravy, either. And smooth. No chunks or chewy bits. No onions, peppers or pineapple pieces. None of that. Just glorious, shimmery, fabulous Chinese sauce over tiny beef spare ribs and sticky white rice on the side. I would all but lick the plate clean. Wait, maybe I did that.

We moved when I was 10. It never dawned on me that might be the last time in my life I would experience that level of Chinese food. But it was. That is, until just a few months ago when I had a true Eureka! moment. I discovered Nagi, the food blogger at

Seriously, for decades I have been on a mission to learn how to prepare really great Asian food—Japanese, Chinese, Thai—all of those cuisines, and sadly without much success. I could never get the sauce right. That’s because I’ve depended on bottled stuff in the Asian aisle of the grocery store. Over and again I would be so disappointed. I wanted to figure out how to make the kind of cuisine I loved as a child, myself—at home. 

You may have already guessed where this is going. I’m excited to let you know that with Nagi’s help, I’ve learned how to make what I call Chinese Brown Sauce. And (get ready) an equally amazing homemade Teriyaki Sauce.

I’m done buying bottled Asian-type sauces. Thanks to Nagi, I can confidently make two fabulous sauces cheaper, better and faster than the time it takes to actually go to the store and search for something that might work.

Nagi calls this her Real Chinese All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce. The best thing is that I can make up a batch and store it in a covered jar in the refrigerator. There it sits all ready to go when we need a fast mid-week meal.

Nagi’s taught me the secrets of authentic Chinese stir-fry, too. It’s not about an exact recipe but rather the technique together with the right proportions of protein, noodles or rice and vegetables. And for me, the secret to any stir-fry is that final step—adding the sauce. And when that sauce is exactly right, that makes it perfect. And it is so easy.

Real Chinese All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce

  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground white pepper

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Store in fridge and shake before use.

To use: This is tricky, because it depends on what you are making. The sauce as it sits in the fridge is concentrated. You will use specific amounts of water along with it, depending on the meal. And each dish you prepare with this sauce will cry out for flavoring, such as garlic. You will find the exact instructions plus additional notes and insight from Nagi HERE.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup Japanese cooking wine (sake)
  • 1/4 cup water

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan over high heat. The larger the pan, the faster it will reduce. For me it takes about 10 minutes, but it depends on the size of the pan you use. Bring to boil, then turn heat down and simmer until it reduces by half. The consistency should be like a light syrup. Bring to room temperature before using.

The sauce will keep in the fridge for three weeks in an airtight container or can be frozen with the meat or on its own.

To use: Here again, it depends on the recipe. Find exact instructions plus additional notes and insight from Nagi HERE including her recipe for Teriyaki Chicken.

Once you click through to and meet Nagi, make plans to try these recipes. You will not be disappointed. And before you leave her website, make sure to check out 10 Classic Chinese Stir Fries, One Amazing Sauce for a collection of 10 wonderful ways to use up the jar of Chinese Brown Sauce I mean Real Chinese All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce, which I’m pretty sure you’ll have sitting in your refrigerator very soon.

A million thanks, Nagi!

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2 replies
  1. Kay Novotny
    Kay Novotny says:

    Mary, I’m sure you didn’t mean to, but you left out a quarter cup of cornstarch in the brown sauce recipe. It must be in there to thicken and make the sauce glossy!


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