Prep, Speed, and Heat: RecipeTinEats on How to Sauté Anything | Australian food and drink

NOTagi Maehashi has been popping up on dinner tables across the country. She’s been to Christmas lunch with the perfect summer salad, with exhausted parents as they slip veggies into midweek staples and she impressed the in-laws with a flawless slice of lemon .

It’s the culmination of years of work on RecipeTin Eats, the food and recipe blog she started with a $50 WordPress account.

On the day of its launch, the site received two clicks: from Maehashi and his mother.

A month later, she put together her recipe for a “all purpose stir fry sauce” – which she calls her Swiss army knife of sautéed sauces. It was shared around Pinterest and its base started to grow.

Shortly after, his recipe for cheese and garlic bread took off and has now been viewed around 200 million times on Facebook.

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Now the blog averages 27 million visits per month, has eight full-time employees, 972,000 Instagram followers and a food bank, and has spawned a cookbook: RecipeTin Eats: Dinner.

Over the years, says Maehashi, she has seen Australian home cooks become more adventurous, with their palates and their recipes. They want to know how to make a laksa that fills the stomach and feeds the soul, or recreate the perfect reuben sandwich they once had in New York.

“They want to create it at home. It’s really exciting to see that actually…I think the accessibility of recipes online has really paved the way for home cooking,” she says.

But she’s also aware of the dangers of following recipes online. In fact, they are the ones who motivated her to start her blog in the first place. “It sounds really awful, but to be honest, when I started looking at all these other recipe websites, some…were really bad,” she says.

“You can’t just put soy sauce on a pile of vegetables and meat and call it a stir fry. As if it’s just not going to be tasty.

Maehashi wants everyone to make good food and make it well. One of his top tips for home cooks is to “get comfortable” by chopping the garlic and onion quickly.

But then she quickly withdraws the answer. “In fact, my number one tip for everyone in the kitchen is to just relax and enjoy it more.”

“I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think cooking is more about confidence than meticulously following a recipe.”

Here, Maehashi shares her stir-fry recipe. This is not a prescriptive manual, but a guide to choosing adventure based on preferences and what’s available in the fridge.

Nagi Maehashi is how to blow anything

Serves 2

Preparation 5 minutes

To cook 5 minutes

Make sure you have all of your ingredients measured out and ready to throw in the pot, because once you start cooking things move fast.

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

Base flavors
1 clove of garlic
finely chopped
1 teaspoon of gingerfinely chopped (or more if desired)
fresh peppersfinely chopped

Jumped up
5 cups of supplements
(crude protein and vegetables)
3 tbsp Charlie All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce (recipe below)
⅓ cup of water (85ml)

Fried noodles
4 cups of supplements
(crude protein and vegetables)
3 cups of noodles of choicecooked (200g fresh or 100g dried)
3 tbsp Charlie All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce (recipe below)
⅓ cup of water (85ml)

Additional flavors
Sriracha, chilli paste or other spicy addition
Sweet chilli sauce
Sesame oil
Replace water with pineapple juice or orange juice
Thai basil, garlic chives or coriander leaves
Five Chinese Spices

Bring back the aromatics: Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add your choice of base flavorings and stir for 10 seconds until lightly browned.

Jumped up: Add stir-fry add-ons, starting with the ingredients that take the longest (e.g. onion, protein, carrot go first, leaving leafy greens like cabbage and Asian greens until at the end). Stir constantly or they will become watery.

Noodle options: Add noodles (if using).

Add the Charlie stir-fry sauce plus water, any additional flavorings you use, and leafy greens.

Reduce the sauce: Stir gently to combine and cook for about one minute. The sauce will become a thick, shiny sauce that will coat your stir-fry.

Serve immediately! Serve stir-fries over rice. The noodles can be divided into bowls and served as is.



  • Always mince the garlic with a knife for stir-fries, rather than using a garlic press, which makes the garlic mushy so it burns, spits, and sticks to the wok.

  • Protein Suggestions: Thinly sliced ​​chicken, pork, beef, medium whole shrimp or even ground meat.

  • Vegetable suggestions: Sliced ​​onion (I almost always use), carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, Asian greens (separate the stems from the leaves, put the stems first as they take longer to cook), cabbage, mushrooms, bean sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower (steamed before use), baby corn (canned or fresh), bamboo shoots (canned).

  • Noodle Options: 200 g fresh noodles (from the fridge), such as Hokkien noodles; 125 g dried noodles (egg, wheat or rice noodles); two large or three small ramen cakes. Prepare them according to the package instructions.

The “Swiss army knife of sautéed sauces” by Nagi Maehashi, alias Charlie. Photography: Rob Palmer/Pan Macmillan Australia

Charlie, my all-purpose stir-fry sauce

Makes 1½ cups (375 ml), enough for 16 servings

Preparation 5 minutes

To cook None

Here is my Swiss army knife of sautéed sauces. It’s a classic Chinese brown sauce that has enough flavor to use as is, but is also neutral enough as a base on which you can add other flavors.

“Brown Sauce” sounded a bit icky, so I ended up always calling it “Charlie” – as in Charlie Brown. Charlie is my trusty sidekick for so many different quick stir-fries. Keep a supply of this stuff handy in your fridge like I do. It’ll save you time and time again when you need to whip up a weeknight dinner in a pinch.

½ cup light soy sauce (125ml)
½ cup oyster sauce (125ml)
¼ cup Chinese cooking wine (60ml)
¼ cup cornstarch (30g)
1 tablespoon of white sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon of white pepper (or more!)

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. Store Charlie in the refrigerator and shake well before use.

Cover of RecipeTin Eats: Dinner cookbook, featuring cook Nagi Maehashi and her bulldozer dog, and a plate of roast chicken.
Photography: Rob Palmer/Pan Macmillan Australia

To use, mix three tablespoons of Charlie with one-third cup (85ml) of water to make a stir-fry or stir-fry noodles for two.

It will last in the refrigerator for six weeks or more, subject to the shelf life of the ingredients used. Shake the jar every other day to prevent the cornstarch from settling and hardening at the base of the jar. Not suitable for freezing.


  • Light soy sauce can be replaced with all-purpose soy sauce, although the sauce is darker in color.

  • Chinese cooking wine can be replaced with low-salt chicken broth, although this will reduce the shelf life of the sauce to one week.

  • This is an edited excerpt from RecipeTin Eats: Dinner, by Nagi Maehashi. Available now from Pan Macmillan Australia ($49.99).

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