Upgrade Stir-Fry Sauce With The Help Of Ketchup

On its own, stir-fry sauce is packed full of savory goodness and, occasionally, a touch of sweetness. A typical recipe may include soy sauce, broth, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and a little sugar or honey. While the sweetness from the latter two ingredients may slightly balance out the savory flavors in the rest, this condiment is mostly full of acidic, salty, and umami notes. If you want to give your basic stir-fry sauce a little upgrade and turn it into a true sweet-and-sour creation, all it needs is a ketchup boost.

The beauty of adding ketchup is that it doesn't just bring more straightforward sweetness to your recipe — if we wanted that, we could just up the amount of honey or sugar we incorporate. Instead, ketchup typically has a vinegar element included, so you're boosting the sweet and sour qualities of the sauce at the same time. Plus, it usually contains salt, so you're really getting three different flavor notes out of one added ingredient. And, if you usually dabble with stir-fry sauce recipes that use Sriracha, ketchup is a way to keep the same texture but ditch the heat.

How to incorporate ketchup into your stir-fry sauce

Depending on how potent you want the ketchup flavor to be in your stir-fry sauce, you can adjust the amount you include accordingly. As little as 2 tablespoons will give your condiment a quality upgrade, though you can also use as much as ¾ cup. It really depends on whether you want a distinctly sweet-and-sour sauce or if you only want those elements to be enhanced just a smidge.

It's also important to take into consideration how much of the other ingredients you're using. You can make a very simple stir-fry sauce by combining equal parts ketchup and soy sauce with a little less vinegar. Since you're not using any sugar or honey in this case, you may want to up the ketchup content to make your condiment a little sweeter. If you're using a whole host of fun ingredients whose flavors you'd like to focus on (such as lime juice, chili sauce, or cooking wine), you can scale the ketchup back a little. Either way, incorporating this new ingredient is as simple as whisking it into your recipe along with everything else before tossing your meat or veggies in your upgraded sauce.