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Chinese Restaurant Style Garlic Sauce

Who doesn't love Chinese restaurants and their delicious food? This is a rhetorical question, because the answer should be 'everyone'. If you don't, I don't know what to do with you. In this post I'll teach you how to make your own homemade version of the popular Garlic sauce or brown sauce you can get at a Chinese restaurant.

This is a really versatile recipe. You could make it with any ingredients, but I went with Asian veggies--bok choy, a type of cabbage, Chinese Eggplant, a longer, thinner cousin of the traditional western Eggplant, and Thai Basil, a type of basil with a purple stem and a slightly spicier flavor than the western style of basil you might be used to.

This is a really easy recipe to master, but there are a few caveats to making it truly successful. The first is learning to work with tapioca starch as a thickener. This is really not that hard--you simmer tapioca starch with water until it gets gelatinous, then add your sauce--but it feels finicky as it tends to get a bit chunky. I assure you, it's pretty foolproof as long as you whisk your ingredients together. The second is making sure you're not adding any extra water in the cooking process, as you don't want to water down the sauce--I made that mistake the first time, and the flavor was really underwhelming as a result. But, if you follow the steps below you will be guaranteed success! I'm really excited about this as my pre-race meal is usually a Tokyo Joe's rice bowl--but now I can make my own!

What You Need:

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup tamari

  • 1/2 cup broth or water

  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (black pepper will work, too!)

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Thumb ginger, minced

  • A handful of Thai Basil

  • Whatever veggies you're using (I had eggplant and bok choy--one head of bok choy and one large Chinese Eggplant. It was about 4 cups of raw veggies).

For the Thickener:

  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch

  • 1/4 cup water


  • On the stove top, steam the vegetables that you're using. You want them to be cooked and drained before you add the sauce so it doesn't get watered down.

  • Take all of your sauce ingredients and put them in a blender until they are a liquid.

  • Mix your two tablespoons of tapioca starch and your 1/4 cup of water, then put this in a pan on the stove top, Heat it over low heat, constantly whisking. It's okay if it gets a little lumpy.

  • Once your tapioca mixture has thickened, add the sauce. Continue to stir over low heat until it comes to a boil,. It will turn into a more gelatinous substance like the sauces you typically get in Asian cuisine.

  • Here's the part where you get to choose: You want to stir your steamed veggies with the sauce, but how much you use is up to you. This sauce is flavorful, so you could use a little, or you could use a lot. You could also not pre-stir and just spoon the sauce on the top of the veggies in the bowl

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