Amanda Cohen’s Secret-Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce Recipe (2024)

By Jeff Gordinier

Amanda Cohen’s Secret-Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce Recipe (1)

Total Time
30 minutes
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On her nights off, Amanda Cohen, the chef at Dirt Candy in Manhattan, uses up the white takeout containers full of rice that accumulate in her fridge by making vegetable fried rice (see the recipe here). To ward off blandness, she stocks her freezer in advance with flavor bombs: small, dark green ice blocks of garlic, ginger, cilantro, parsley and other ingredients, frozen in ice cube trays. When the rice and vegetables are hot in the pan and ready for a boost, you simply melt a flavor cube or two in the mix and let the rice take on a tasty coat of green.

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Yield:1 cup (about 1 ice cube tray)

  • cup cilantro
  • cup parsley
  • cup Thai basil
  • 4cups spinach
  • 2cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (2 servings)

33 calories; 1 gram fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 1 gram sugars; 3 grams protein; 63 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Amanda Cohen’s Secret-Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Tear all the stems off the herbs and spinach. (No need to be exact, just rip off most of them.)

  2. Step


    Blanch the cilantro, parsley, Thai basil and spinach in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. As soon as they turn bright green, take them out and drop them into a bowl of ice water.

  3. Step


    Take the greens out of the ice bath and shake off excess water (but leave the greens wet). Put them into a blender or small food processor with the garlic and ginger. Blend until you have a smooth, dark green purée. If it’s too thick, add a little water to keep it moving, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Pour purée into an ice cube tray and pop it into the freezer. To use in fried rice, add a few cubes to the pan once the vegetables and any other protein are cooked and the rice is translucent; keep stirring as the cubes melt and coat the rice. Season and serve.



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Cooking Notes


I realize this post is 3 months old, but in case anyone needs the info, you blanch them because you are freezing them. Raw herbs turn black or a very unappetizing dark green when frozen. Blanching and shocking in ice water prevents this, as well as preserving the flavor.


Made this, and found the frozen cubes are a great staple to have on hand. I made the mistake of leaving the long parsley and cilantro stems intact, and they ended up wound around the base of the blender blades -- hard to remove. A bit of warning in the recipe might be helpful, even though the recipe did specify taking the leaves off the stems. With a bag of these cubes and a bag of concentrated meat stock cubes in the freezer -- much is possible! Spray the ice cube tray with non-stick spray.


Since these cubes are intended add flavor to other dishes, it's useful to leave the salt out since you can add the right amount based on the dish you are creating.

In addition, salting the sauce would lower it's freezing point, and possibly prevent it from freezing in a lot of people's freezers.


I saute batches of arugula, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt; process to preferred texture, use ice cream scoop to make balls, lay them out on dish/sheet to freeze, into freezer bags to use with pasta, when fresh arugula unobtainable, which is often in the winter in Detroit.


Instead of cubes I place ~1/4 c or less paste in a quart size zip lock freezer bag. On a flat surface I flatten contents & squeeze out all the air spreading paste almost to zipper. Plus you can store other frozen foods on top of the bags.Baggies have less contact with air than cubes so the pastes retain their colorI use this method of freezing for Thai chile paste or chiles for taco sauce and salsa. You can break off pieces as large or as small as you wish and reseal the ziplock bag.


This is a grand way to use up those herbs that are going to be bad by 'tomorrow'. I was tired of wasting them and found this an excellent way to use them all up.


Made a batch of this and the next day, sauteed some scallops, pulled the two boxes of leftover rice out of fridge, a little onion, oil, soy sauce, tossed in the rice, fried it up crispy, some beaten egg, then threw in this flavor bomb, topped with scallions, and it was fantastic!


I am grateful to have your recipe as I have preserved garden herbs and pesto like this for years. i use flat 'take out' trays with thick pastes, scribing divisions in the paste to create small removable amounts when frozen. I didn't like cleaning the ice cube trays.


I had some stronger greens and used those instead of the spinach. Also added lemongrass, a habanero, juice of a lime and salt to taste. I was looking for a more concentrated and rounded flavor bomb for quick-dinner nights - it's great!

Jenn Marshall

This sounds like such a great idea (as do the other suggestions). Unfortunately, I've got the "cilantro tastes like soap" gene. I can tolerate it in limited amounts, but when it's a major ingredient like this, there's no way it would work.

Any suggestions for something to switch with the cilantro that would maintain the Asian flair without the Lifebuoy taste?

Stuart Bernstein

I'm with Kim. And will lie to spouse when asked if it contains cilantro. Also: will remove from ice cube trays into ziploc when frozen...


Why not try mint as a substitute for the cilantro


I do this for pesto using silicone cupcake molds (pops right out) I also make up hot and mild chili bombs with onions, cilantro, garlic and peppers for seasoning dishes. I bet it would work well for making up sofrito as well. All of these are stored in vacuum sealed containers in the freezer.


blanching will hold their vivid green color and banish any bitterness that might be lingering in the herbs.


This is such a delightful concept. I have a bag of these tasty cubes in my freezer. They are my go-to helper in any stir fry. I does strike me that you can make these in such a variety of flavor combinations. For this particular one, next time I will increase the garlic, ginger and perhaps add a Serrano pepper to the mix and nix the parsley (just maybe!).


Absolutely love this - two cubes with leftover rice and a fried egg on top and you have one hell of a lunch. I skipped the blanching and just rinsed the herbs well and threw in two jalapeños (seeded & cored) for a little kick. Used regular old basil as I didn’t get to the Asian Market and it’s still great. One batch equaled ~ 24 large square cubes. So little effort for so many delicious meals ahead!


This recipe needs a better name. If you forget its name,but want to refer to the recipe again, it’s very difficult to “search” for it by its current name. Sorry, Amanda Cohen. It’s a great recipe though.

gretchen in oc

so true! I finally found it again and now thankfully have it in my recipe box.




We grow kale and collards. Take this sauce, add coconut milk, red pepper flakes and blanched and frozen greens. Yummy!

Norma Messing

remove stems


Great timing for my garden herbs and spinach that needed exhausting. My tip- bought silicone mini muffin “pan” to freeze and pop out easily into ziplock for freezing.


This is a super useful recipe. I usually add jalapeno. Go South Asian by adding ground roasted cumin and stir into rice, dal or Indian bean salads.I blanch my greens in the microwave, which easily renders the bright green color and is easier to control. Start with a minute and then add in 10 sec increments if needed . They don't get as hot as boiling water so you can skip the water bath. Just add about 4T of water to get the right consistency.It's great for using up excess herbs.


These work great in the coconut rice recipe if you add one towards the end of the cooking.

Babs Rose

I had left over cauliflower "rice" in the freezer and used a frozen cube of the secret weapon to create a great stir fried side dish for my roasted salmon entree.


Why blanch the herbs?

Ben Roazen

These are so clutch — brilliant in stir-fries and fried rice, sure, but my friend Matt FX originally drizzled this sauce over crispy-fried pork chops and shell pasta and it was a showstopper. Endless room for improvisation and customization. Make a double batch.

Joseph O'Sullivan

This is a great primer on stir fry sauces. I made the original and then tinkered with a second batch. I added galangal and lemongrass for an added Thai twist.


I made another batch today because my thai basil plant is out of control (in a good way). This is a lot of work but worth it. My golden moment was remembering that I had two teflon coated mini muffin tins from the days when I thought making mini muffins was a good use of time. Each mini muffin spot holds 2 TB. I am assuming this will be a lot easier than prying the cubes out of ice cube trays.


What a wonderfully versatile recipe! Just defrosted 2 cubes, heated them through with 2 TBS. olive oil, capers and a bit of lemon juice. Made a great "salsa verde" to serve over salmon filets.

yummy but wish it made more

Delicious! But I'd probably double it next time--if I'm going to the trouble of freezing a component, I want to have a decent stash. Also, I used regular basil. Tasted great.

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Amanda Cohen’s Secret-Weapon Stir-Fry Sauce Recipe (2024)
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