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Basic Sauce

Recipe Summary

When I turned fifteen I ran away from home. In no time at all I found myself living in the back of a Chinese restaurant and spending my time as a prep chef for the restaurant. I was very young and was quite insecure about getting the carrots cut at the right angle and in the right size, but somehow I managed.

At this restaurant the foundation of every recipe was “basic sauce”, ginger and scallions. All dishes from broccoli tofu to sweet and sour pork to kung pao chicken started with this combination. Basic sauce is a staple in my kitchen today.


1 part sugar
3 parts soy sauce
1 part white wine
In other words: 1 cup sugar to 3 cups soy sauce to 1 cup white wine. Or ½cup sugar to 1½cup soy sauce, ½cup white wine. You get the idea.


The only trick is that you need to dissolve the sugar into the soy sauce before adding the wine. It takes forever for sugar to dissolve into wine. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)

Place the soy sauce into a large bottle and add the sugar. Cap and shake. Let it sit and then shake some more. If you are in a hurry you can warm up the bottle by placing it in a bowl of hot water. If you’re not in a hurry just leave it and next time you come through the kitchen give it another shake. When the sugar is dissolved add the wine and shake. It is ready to use.

Recipes that use basic sauce:

  • Baked Tofu
  • Fried Rice
  • Chinese Chicken and Vegetables