What Is Chinese Brown Sauce And What Is It Made Of?

Per Spoon University, there are more than 40,000 Chinese takeout restaurants in the United States. In fact, there are more Chinese quick service options than there are McDonald's franchises in the U.S. They have become a staple of the American culture, offering up some of our favorite Chinese dishes in cute white boxes that fit so perfectly in our refrigerators for leftovers the next morning.

Chinese takeout is definitely a favored food. China Daily noted that in 2015 the National Restaurant Association  conducted a survey that found 36 percent of respondents confirmed they eat Chinese food at least once a month, with 42 percent responding that they eat it a few times a year. But after slurping up your favorite chow mein or licking your lips after chowing down on some Kung Pao chicken, have you ever wondered, "What is that unbelievably delicious and savory sauce?" You are a fan of the Chinese brown sauce. And how could you not be? It makes everything taste better. Our favorite beef and broccoli (via The Spruce Eats) wouldn't be the same incredible stir fry we have grown to love and crave without Chinese brown sauce. But what exactly is Chinese brown sauce? What's in it?

Chinese brown sauce is made of simple ingredients

Chinese brown sauce is the ubiquitous sauce you often find in some of your favorite Chinese takeout dishes. The sauce consists of stock or broth. It's generally of the beef persuasion, but that's not a steadfast rule. There are plenty of Chinese brown sauce recipes floating out there that call for chicken or vegetable broth. The purpose of this sauce is to create a more condensed gravy, especially for your stir fry-type dishes. The sauce coats and binds all the ingredients together and makes your taste buds call out for more (also via The Spruce Eats).

Martin Yan, host of the cooking show Yan Can Cook, told The Takeout that brown sauce "is the Chinese mother sauce." Yan went on to explain the composition of this Chinese brown sauce: "There's broth, soy sauce, sugar, a touch of wine, and some sort of thickener." It really is that simple, and it's easy to recreate this sauce in your own kitchen. Some Chinese brown sauce recipes call for oyster sauce, while others (per Ela Vegan) include more aromatic elements like garlic, ginger, or even flakes of red pepper, to give it a little bit of a kick.