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Dry Sherry Is The Unexpected Ingredient That Adds Depth To Stir-Fry Sauce

vegetable meat stir fry
vegetable meat stir fry - AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

A weeknight stir fry is a great fast dinner but can be a bit boring without a flavorful sauce. With so many recipes out there with plentiful ingredient choices, we want to recommend one that's easy to find in nearly every store with an alcohol section, and stores well in your pantry -- dry sherry. In fact, you may see dry sherry suggested as a substitute in some recipes for the more traditional, but harder-to-find Shaoxing wine. That's because they share many of the same flavor profiles, adding a deep umami flavor, some acidity, and golden color to a recipe. Dry sherry has one more advantage as well, it's gluten-free, while Shaoxing wine often has wheat in the ingredient list.

As you might suspect from the name, dry sherry is the least sweet form of sherry wine, a traditional product of the Jerez wine-growing region of Spain. It begins as a white wine produced from local grapes, fortified with more alcohol, and aged in oak barrels for several years. You may see fine shipping sherry at high prices, but we advise a bottle below the $20 mark for recipe use. You may see a bottle labeled cooking sherry, which is a lower grade of sherry with salt and preservatives added. We don't recommend choosing this bottle because your stir-fry sauce likely has other salty ingredients such as soy sauce. Once opened, store the sherry tightly corked in the refrigerator.

Read more: 13 Liquors Your Home Bar Should Have

Shaking Up Flavors In Your Stir-Fry

glass of sherry wine
glass of sherry wine - Kontrast-fotodesign/Getty Images

A stir-fry sauce should be balanced in flavors, enhancing and not covering up the ingredients being tossed in the pan. Sherry is noted for being very food-friendly, a great pairing for many flavors, so naturally works with a great variety of sauce recipes. Because the amount used in a stir-fry sauce recipe is pretty small, you may not detect the actual flavor of sherry in the dish, but the rich umami background adds an unmistakable essence. Sherry also adds a toasty, nuttiness with a caramel edge you need in your life.

It couldn't be easier to use dry sherry in your stir-fry recipes. If the recipe calls for Shaoxing wine, simply substitute measure for measure with dry sherry. If you want to try adding sherry to a favorite recipe of your own, you can add a teaspoon at a time, tasting as you go. You'll enjoy the depth of flavor that dry sherry adds to your next stir-fry.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.