How To Make Chinese Brown Sauce

Chinese brown sauce is a versatile sauce that accompanies most Chinese entrees. Once you have the basic recipe for the simple brown sauce, you can use it to add to stir-fried vegetables, deep-fried tofu, lo-Mein noodles and a host of other dishes.

The authentic version uses a vegetable stock so that it can be easily added to a variety of dishes without regard to personal tastes, dietary needs, or nutritional concerns.  Smart cooks begin with a good quality vegetable broth reconstituted from bouillon cubes or envelope stock. For those who wish to avoid high sodium content or who are looking for a more authentic  and healthy recipe, a homemade vegetable stock would be the better choice and is easily made by boiling a variety of root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and onions, as well as cabbage, corn and green beans until they are soft and well-cooked. The vegetables can be used elsewhere as in stews and soups.

This recipe yields one cup of brown sauce and can be frozen for later use. Try freezing it in cubes so that it is simple to use.  This basic sauce easily lends itself to the popular Chinese Master Sauce, which involves adding an exotic blend of spices such as anise, ginger, plum wine, or licorice or can be spiced up Szechuan-style with hot peppercorns or a variety of hot chilies.


  • One cup cold vegetable broth or stock
  • Two tablespoons tamari sauce
  • Two teaspoons soy sauce
  • One teaspoon brown sugar
  • Two tablespoons cornstarch

Place one-half cup of stock in a small bowl. Place the other half cup of the broth in a small gravy pan over very low heat.  Using a small whisk, blend the two tablespoons of cornstarch, using just a little bit at a time, into the cool broth. Blend very well until all the lumps are gone and the texture is smooth and a light brown.  Add the tamari sauce and sugar to the stock on the stove.

Very carefully and slowly, blend the cornstarch mixture into the broth that is heating on the stove.  The sauce will begin to thicken as it cooks, and will thicken even more upon cooling.

If the sauce is too thick, more broth can be added in a little at a time.  If the sauce is too thin, add two to three teaspoons of cornstarch to a half-cup of cool water and blend well. Add to brown sauce.


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