Homemade Schezwan Sauce, also known as Szechuan Sauce, is so quick and easy to prepare that you will wave those store-bought bottles goodbye!
Bursting with hot and spicy flavors, balanced by tangy and sweet notes, this gluten-free condiment is made of dried red chilies, ginger and garlic, tomato paste, and a few delicious seasonings that tie all of the ingredients together into this formidable Indo Chinese sauce, for a real fusion experience.
I've been preparing homemade Schezwan sauce for such a long time I couldn't tell you where to find it in the grocery shop, and this is mainly because there are few recipes as easy as this one that deliver so much flavor!
I started preparing this at home over a decade ago when Jay would fancy a Schezwan chutney dosa or some Veg Manchurian, and he'd tell me about how he used to eat those on the streets in Mumbai, close to the railway with his friends.
The main aim of this recipe was to achieve this sauce with the fewest ingredients in the least amount of time, without giving up on the well-balanced result fusion restaurants in India achieve with this Indo-Chinese treat.
After many trials [and multiple pages of notes], success! I here present you the best ever homemade Szechuan sauce.
Ingredients Schezwan Sauce
- Oil: Use simple vegetable oil for cooking the ingredients and assist with preserving the homemade sauce.
- Ginger and Garlic: Finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic make up a significant portion of this sauce. It is important these are fresh and not from a paste jar.
- Green Onions: The white part of the green onions [and a little bit of the lighter green] bulk up the sauce, assisting with a little sweetness.
- Dry Red Chilies: The heat element; I used Kashmiri red chilies, but others can be used too [more details in the tips below].
- Tomato Paste: To balance out the heat-tangy-sweet factor.
- Sugar: Balances the tanginess of the tomato paste while playing with the heat of the red chilies.
- Soy Sauce and White Wine Vinegar: Chinese condiments.
- Ajinomoto and Salt: Seasoning for the sauce, with the first being optional.
How to make Schezwan Sauce?
- Start by soaking the Kashmiri Red Chilies in warm water for about half an hour.
- Once soaked and soft, remove the stem and blend them to create a red chili paste.
- Keep the water of the chilies on the side, as it will be needed while cooking (not to water the sauce down too much) and you can use a bit to help you blend the chilies to a paste as well.
- Prepare the green onions, ginger, and garlic by chopping them into thin slices and small dice; once this prep is done, you can start cooking the Schezwan sauce.
- Warm up the oil and cook the ginger and garlic until the rawness has gone (but they don't turn brown), then add the green onions.
- Once the green onions are cooked too, add the Kashmiri chili paste and the tomato pure; allow these to cook as well, and use some of the leftover water from the chilies if required.
- After the chili sauce and tomato paste have cooked, it is time to season the sauce with some vinegar, brown sugar, salt, soy sauce, and Ajinomoto.
- Cook the sauce again and use some more of the 'spicy water' to achieve the consistency you like.
- When you reach the consistency you like, adjust the seasoning (you may want to keep a bit of the vinegar for this stage), give it a last stir, and it is ready to be served!
- Enjoy your homemade Schezwan Sauce!
People Also Ask [FAQs]
Homemade Schezwan Sauce is made of vegetable oil, freshly chopped garlic and ginger, the lighter part of the green onions, dried red chilies, tomato paste or sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, Ajinomoto, and salt to taste. Originally, crushed Sichuan pepper is used, however, its fruity tones have been balanced out with the use of green onion, so as to avoid purchasing the ingredient, if this is the only reason to buy; crushed black pepper [or black pepper powder] can be added if desired.
Schezwan Sauce can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-6 weeks, as the vegetable oil and vinegar used help preserve it longer. Ensure you use a clean spoon every time you use the Schezwan sauce.
For longer storage, this homemade sauce can be frozen and thawed prior to use; for ease, freeze this in smaller portions [ie: ice cubes or smaller containers] and thaw as required.
Szechuan Sauce is perfect to use with most Indo Chinese dishes, such as noodles, egg-fried rice [turning it into a bowl of Schezwan fried rice], or traditional spring rolls. This chutney can be used as a marinade for chicken or paneer, as well as a dipping sauce for pakoras, samosas, French fries, or chicken nuggets. Use it as a spread when preparing sandwiches, or add a dollop of it to your stir fry.
Tips and Tricks for Schezwan Sauce
- Vegetable Oil: This flavorless oil allows the other ingredients to play the main role. Although Schezwan Sauce is traditionally prepared using mustard oil, this is not licensed for consumption in the US, Canada, or the EU. Should you wish to try it, a good alternative is sesame oil.
- Garlic and Ginger: These can be painful to prepare, so if available, I recommend opting for freshly frozen ones. Should you not find these, peel the ginger and garlic and use a food processor to chop. Do not use ginger garlic paste as an alternative, as it won't work.
- Dry Chillies: Schezwan Sauce is hot, very hot, and it uses a large number of chilies. In this recipe, I used Kashmiri chilies, which are spicy - but not extreme - and offer a great color to the sauce. Dried red chilies can be used too; however, I wouldn't recommend using more than 50% red chilies in the recipe, as the Schezwan sauce may become too strong, but play around with proportions to find your perfect spice level. Also, red pepper flakes are not an ideal substitute.
- Sichuan Pepper: If you have the ingredient, which is the one that gives the name to the recipe, you can add half a teaspoon of crushed Sichuan pepper to the saucepan once the ginger, garlic, and green onions are cooked.
- Tomato Paste: This is pure and simple concentrated tomato sauce with no added flavorings or seasonings. If you decide to use ketchup or chili garlic sauce instead, then balance out the other ingredients, such as vinegar, sugar, and salt, in the Schezwan sauce.
This simple homemade Schezwan sauce recipe is all you need to turn a simple dish into a party for your taste buds. With its tangy, hot, and sweet notes, this is the perfect sauce for a fusion Indo Chinese meal.
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Schezwan Sauce Recipe
- 4 tablespoon Sunflower Oil
- 90 g Fresh Ginger
- 90 g Fresh Garlic
- 90 g Spring Onion the White Part of the Vegetable
- 15 Dried Kashmiri Chilies
- 2 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 2 teaspoon Brown Sugar (Muscovado, or Demerara)
- 1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce Thick
- 1 ½ tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoon Ajinomoto Chinese Salt
- Salt to Taste
- In a jar or small jug, put the 15 dried Kashmiri chilies and cover them with warm water; to keep them under the water to soak, choose a container that is slightly wider than a glass, so then you can use a glass to hold the chilies underwater and stop them from floating. Allow the chilies to soak for at least half an hour.
- Finely chop the ginger and garlic in small cubes no more than 1,5mm in size; thinly chop the white part of the spring onion as well. Set all aside.
- In a pan, warm up the sunflower oil on medium heat, but do not allow it to overheat; once warm add the ginger and garlic and reduce the flame to low. Allow these to cook slowly, without browning, until the rawness has gone (about 2-3 minutes), then add the chopped spring onion.
- Mix well and allow to cook on a low flame for a further 4-5 minutes.
- In the meantime, drain the Kashmiri Red Chilies, but keep their water on the side; remove the top of the chilies, if the green part is still there, then grind them to a paste using a little bit of the water they soaked in if needed. Put this chili sauce aside.
- Once ginger, garlic, and spring onions are cooked, add the Kashmiri chili paste and tomato paste to the pan and mix well again; always keeping them on low heat, cook for a further 4-5 minutes, or until the tomato and chili paste are cooked through.
- At this stage add the brown sugar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and Ajinomoto and mix well; you will need to allow this to cook for a further 5-10 minutes, so add some water from the chilies if necessary.
- Once this all has cooked for 10 minutes longer on a low flame, you can add the last half a tablespoon of vinegar and adjust the salt. Mix well and cook for a further minute or two, then allow to cool down before storing in the fridge.