Red-Cooked Sauce (Chinese Mother Sauce #4)

April 19, 2017
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

This is mainly deployed as a secret weapon in braises. Pork and chicken are the usual suspects, but vegans revel in these delightful flavors, too, by tossing things like sturdy vegetables, bean curd, or gluten in the mix to make a meatless dish worthy of the Lord Buddha himself. The key to this dish is using good Chinese soy sauces, mushroomy Shaoxing rice wine, and that touch of caramel. Read more about Chinese mother sauces here. —Madame Huang

  • Makes about 2 cups
  • 5 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 16 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 5 scallions, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 7 tablespoons regular soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1/2 cup caramel (see the recipe for Sweet Soy Sauce, Chinese mother sauce #3), or rock sugar to taste
  • Boiling water, as needed
  • optional 3 whole star anise or 1/2 stick cinnamon
In This Recipe
  1. Set your wok over medium-high heat, add the oil, and when the oil starts to shimmer, add the ginger and scallions, and stir these around until they brown. Add both soy sauces, the rice wine, the caramel syrup or rock sugar, and around a cup of boiling water. If you would like to add other seasonings, like garlic or spices, do it now.
  2. Simmer the ingredients for around 15 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with more soy sauce or caramel or rice wine as desired. Strain out the solids, if you like, and refrigerate the sauce when you are not using it immediately.

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  • Madame Huang
    Madame Huang
Carolyn Phillips is a food writer, scholar, and artist. She is the author of the fully illustrated All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China (McSweeney’s + Ten Speed Press, August 2016) and The Dim Sum Field Guide: A Taxonomy of Dumplings, Buns, Meats, Sweets, and Other Specialties of the Chinese Teahouse (Ten Speed Press, August 2016). Her work has appeared in such places as Best Food Writing 2015, Lucky Peach, Gastronomica, Buzzfeed, Alimentum, Huffington Post, Food52, Zester Daily, and at the 2013 MAD Symposium in Copenhagen. She and her husband were cultural consultants on the third Ghostbusters movie, her weekly blog is Madame Huang's Kitchen (, she Tweets as @madamehuang, and Instagrams as @therealmadamehuang. Carolyn’s art has appeared everywhere from museums and galleries to various magazines and journals to Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas series. She worked for over a decade as a professional Mandarin interpreter in the federal and California state courts, lived in Taiwan for eight years, translated countless books and articles, and married into a Chinese family more than 30 years ago.