A traditional Chinese classic – this is the sauces of all sauces. Made from just ginger and scallions, the base aromatics of quintessential Cantonese cooking, don’t underestimate the flavour bomb created by these ingredients!
If there is one sauce I can’t live without, it’s this ginger scallion sauce. I would honestly say, it’s one of my top 5 because of its versatility. It brings to life so many dishes and yet it can take center stage with just a plain bowl of rice. The spicy ginger and sweet scallion is a match made in heaven. Called the “Mother Sauce” by David Chang, the founder of Momofoku, it’s one of the best condiments ever made….hands down! And you know what’s the best part – it comes together in 5 minutes!
Only 5 simple ingredients in this Ginger Scallion sauce
There are many variations to this sauce especially amongst Chinese families. The most abundant ingredients are ginger and scallion though. My in-laws like to add oyster sauce and soya sauce to theirs, others might add red vinegar but my mother always kept it simple and clean and it’s how I also like to enjoy it.
Ginger is minced super duper fine so when it cooks down, it almost resembles a paste. This helps temper down the spiciness of the ginger but keeping its great flavour. The ginger must be peeled before mincing with a spoon (see below)
Scallion is also chopped finely so it mixes well with the ginger. It’s cooked very briefly in the hot oil giving the sauce its sweetness.
This sauce benefits from being on the saltier side to give a lovely briny flavour brightening neutral food and cutting rich ones. If you’re concerned with the salt content, feel free to cut the salt content in half and salt to taste.
A neutral oil is needed for this sauce so it doesn’t distract from the pure ginger and scallion flavours. I use grapeseed oil but any neutral oil will do. I wouldn’t use olive oil in this dish since I find it conflicts with the delicate flavours of the scallion and ginger.
A dash of sesame oil really adds to this sauce. This is my own personal preference that adds a lovely aroma and richness but feel free to leave out if you want.
Other versions of this sauce actually let the raw ingredients soak in the oil for a few days. I’m usually in a rush, so cooking it speeds up this process. Any leftovers can also be refrigerated and used later. It’s important to not brown the ginger during the cooking process for a cleaner flavour. Browning the ginger offers a nuttier flavour profile. Add the scallions at the very end and stir it around the hot oil for only 30 seconds. Take the sauce off the heat and let the scallions wilt and soften in the residual heat. This allows the scallions to have a little more bite and texture.
The sauce really comes together in a flash! I love to serve this with steamed chicken breast as a quick and healthy weeknight meal. My husband and I enjoy the tender chicken slices with this sauce on rice while I dip chicken pieces in just the oil and serve it with ketchup for my daughters. Baby steps you know?
Have you tried this ginger scallion sauce before? Let me know in the comments below!
Ginger Scallion Sauce
Makes about 1/2 cup of sauce
- 4 tbsp grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt cut salt to 1/4 tsp for less saltiness
- 3 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 cup finely chopped scallion 5 sprigs both whites and greens
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- In a small sauce pot, turn heat to medium
- Add the grapeseed oil
- Once oil is hot, add minced ginger and salt. Turn down heat to low/medium
- Mix and cook for 1 minute making sure it doesn’t brown. Add chopped scallion
- Mix and cook for another 30 seconds
- Turn off the heat, add sesame oil, mix and let stand for 3-5 minutes
- Serve with your favourite meal or just plain rice or noodles