Make Ahead

Amanda Cohen's Secret Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce (for Vegetable Fried Rice & More)

June  2, 2015
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 2, with plenty of leftover stir-fry sauce
Author Notes

This sauce is a secret weapon in more ways than you'd expect. First, it's a quick way of shuttling all of your faltering greens and herbs and desiccated nubs of ginger out of their holding pens and into the future. Squirrel the ice cubes away in your freezer and you can have a vividly flavored fried rice or stir-fry anytime without washing or chopping or peeling—or even defrosting. Though Cohen likes it best for dispatching lingering containers of take-out rice, "It's adaptable for any grain, really," she says—anywhere you want "a really big, bright green blast." Adapted slightly from Dirt Candy and The New York Times . —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • Vegetable Fried Rice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup trimmed and quartered brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup diced fennel
  • 2 cups chopped chard
  • 1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 4 cups leftover rice, loosely packed (about 1 large, quart-size carton or 2 small pint-size cartons)
  • 4 frozen cubes (or 4 tablespoons fresh) Secret Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to taste
  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Secret Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce
  • 2/3 cup cilantro
  • 2/3 cup parsley
  • 2/3 cup Thai basil (or substitute regular basil)
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  1. Vegetable Fried Rice
  2. Heat sesame oil and canola oil in a large pan or a wok over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the vegetables and stir constantly until they have started to soften and brown, about 4 minutes.
  3. Toss in the rice, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the clumps. Some of the rice will stick to the pan, but don’t panic. The older and drier the rice, the longer this takes. If it starts sticking a lot, add a dash of rice wine vinegar or water. Keep stirring until the rice softens and becomes slightly translucent.
  4. Add the frozen Stir-Fry Sauce cubes, and keep stirring as they melt and coat the rice. Transfer the rice into a bowl and season to taste with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, or hot sauce, or all four.
  1. Secret Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce
  2. Tear all the stems off the herbs and spinach. (No need to be exact, just rip off most of them.)
  3. Blanch the cilantro, parsley, Thai basil, and spinach in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. As soon as they turn bright green, take them out and drop them into a bowl of ice water.
  4. Take the greens out of the ice bath and shake off excess water (but leave the greens wet). Put them into a blender or small food processor with the garlic and ginger. Blend until you have a smooth, dark green purée. If it’s too thick, add a little water to keep it moving, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Pour purée into an ice cube tray and pop it into the freezer. To use in fried rice, add a few cubes to the pan once the vegetables and any other protein are cooked and the rice is translucent; keep stirring as the cubes melt and coat the rice. Season and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Leith Devine
    Leith Devine
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
  • thefolia
  • tastysweet
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

17 Reviews

Kate's K. June 18, 2018
Any suggestions for substituting the cilantro? I usually sub parsley for it however the recipe already has plenty of parsley. Some household members think cilantro has a soapy taste. Thanks
Kimberly June 3, 2016
What would be a good replacement for cilantro (I'm allergic)?
Beckey March 6, 2016
Kale can also work well for this. Great way to preserve and reduce down the huge bunches of it that can seem impossible for small households to use up.
Leith D. August 15, 2015
I made this and used the ingredients for the stir fry sauce but omitted the ginger...the cubes are great in soup and pasta dishes.
Marian B. July 6, 2015
wow yum
thefolia June 14, 2015
What a brilliant idea, although I won't use canola no bueno!
tastysweet June 11, 2015
Do you think using left over quinoa is acceptable in lieu of the rice?
Kristen M. June 11, 2015
Yes, quinoa or other leftover cooked grains are more great places for this secret weapon to do its stuff.
Chris G. June 7, 2015
You fixed the Red Wine/Rice wing vinegar on this page but not the other one:
The Genius Secret Weapon You Should Always Have in Your Freezer
I guess this is one of the reasons I've never quite understood the two page format!
Chris Glenn
Kristen M. June 8, 2015
Thanks for pointing that out Chris -- I fixed the other page too. Long story on the 2 different places thing, but basically recipes and articles are different beasts we consume in different ways. This is the only place people can actually cook from!
shecans June 7, 2015
why blanch the herbs, and not but them in raw as in a pesto?
shecans June 7, 2015
Carol D. March 15, 2019
Because blanching them turns them bright green, and counter-intuitively, it actually gives a more vibrant "fresher" flavor. It's worth the step.
laurelweiner June 7, 2015
Canola is gmo...
dinner A. July 23, 2019
Not if it's organic.
BerkeleyLinda June 5, 2015
I think the ingredient list should say RICE wine vinegar not RED wine vinegar, right?
Kristen M. June 6, 2015
Yes, thank you -- just corrected the recipe!