A stir fry is a simple, easy and healthy homemade meal that can be prepared in 10-25 minutes and cooked in five minutes or less. So you can put the rice on to cook and complete the stir-fry before the rice is ready. This is a lot of mystique about the wok, the gas burner, the herbs and sauces and the cooking method which is basically a lot of rubbish unless you are a chef in a Chinese restaurant and so ignore it - do you own thing - its simple. You can use a standard wok over a special gas burner if you have these items. But you can stir fry well enough using a standard fry pan on an electric stove. You just have to be a little smarter and take care to use the maximum heat available. This article with show you how to make fabulous stir fries using very basic equipment. The major time consuming part is doing all the chopping - but this is not hard to do and can take a little time. You can do all the chopping well ahead of time or use pre-chopped frozen vegetables. The meat can also be slice well ahead of time and marinaded in the refrigerator. If you are short of time you can do all the preparation in the morning, covering the meat and vegetables with plastic. Then you can simply take these items from the refrigerator and cook for dinner. The good thing about stir fries is that they are very versatile and you can include a wide variety of ingredients. There are a various of recipes below for you to try.
Prepare the Protein
Marinading beef, chicken and pork adds flavour and helps tenderize the meat. Its not absolutely necessary if you slice the meat very thinly across the grain and only just cook it (as explained below). Marinade sliced beef, chicken or pork for 20-40 minutes before cooking. Always drain well before frying
Best Marinade Recipe
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon sugar or honey(optional for certain dishes)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons sesame oil (use chili sesame oil for kick)
1 tablespoon chili finely chopped
3 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/3 cup dry sherry or rice wine
1 tablespoon broth, wine or water
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tablespoon orange or pineapple juice
2 teaspoon onion finely chopped
Soy Sauce Marinade (great for soy chicken)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar or soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
Prepare the vegetables
Anything goes when choosing the vegetables to include. Choose fresh vegetables that are available in season and can be prepared and stir-fried quickly. The various types should be kept in separate bowls depending on how long it takes to cook them, which mostly depends on thickness and texture. Fresh green beans can be grouped with asparagus and Chinese vegetable stalks. Thin leafy parts such as Chinese cabbage and leafy greens can be put into separate bowls.
Some of the options are:
Prepare the Nuts
Fry the nuts in a small amount of oil until brown, or roast the nuts in a shallow baking pan in the oven
Prepare the aromatics (Keep these items in a separate bowl)
Onions - First cut one or two peeled onion vertically (pole-to-pole) using about 6 cuts. You can cut the onions in half and then lay flat and make three more cuts. This creates onion sections, rather than flat thin slices, which provides more texture.
1-3 tablespoons of fresh ginger root
1-3 cloves of garlic
1-3 chilies (various types and colours)
Prepare the Fresh Herbs
These are added at last minute just before serving
Prepare a quick stir-fry sauce and glaze
This glaze is optional and provides the food with a glossy sheen and thickened sauce. It is made from 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of chicken broth or water.
A few minutes before you're ready to start stir-frying, turn on the exhaust fan and turn up the heat under the skillet to high. Make sure all your ingredients are close at hand. Add a tablespoon of a high-temperature frying oil such as peanut oil, grape seed oil of rice bran oil. Don't use canola or olive oil or other low temperature frying oils.
Secret Tip - do the stir frying in small batches and assemble at the end. This works because you cook everything to perfection and you can keep the wok or frying pan at maximum heat. Add a minimum amount of oil each time, if needed and allow to heat to start smoking before adding any items.
You can use any of the following implements for stir frying:
You will also need a large frying pan or saucepan for final assembly
Stirring spoon or spatula, soy sauce and other sauces to add at the end.
Order for cooking the ingredients
Cook in batches allowing the pan or skillet to heat-up fully before doing the next batch. Unless you have a gas stove or barbecue with a wok burner you will have to allow time for the pan to heat. This pans do not store much heat and will require smaller batches than thicker cast iron pans. The order for cooking is:
1. Nuts - Roast any nuts such as blanched almonds, cashews, etc. in a little oil and set aside
2. Onions and half the ginger, garlic and chilies - add a teaspoon of oil to the pan and heat the pan on very high heat until you see the oil just starts to smoke. Cook the onions first and stir vigorously until the onions go transparent. Then add the garlic and ginger. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Remove the cooked ingredients from the pan to the storage container.
3. Thick vegetable stems of Chinese vegetables, asparagus, beans, snow peas - Add a teaspoon of oil and reheat the pan. Note that frying the vegetable before the meat is the opposite of the usual method. The reason for frying the meat last is to avoid overcooking it. The protein should be just cooked and all the other cooked ingredients transferred back into the pan to stop any further cooking. This stops the protein from drying out. Add the vegetables to the pan and stir-fry while mixing continuously until cooked. The vegetable can be left crisp to add texture to the dish. Remove to the storage container.
4. Vegetable leaves, bean spouts, cabbage, thinner stems, mushrooms - Stir-fry these items briefly. They are thinner and will cook quickly. One trick is to splash in about a quarter cup of water. This generate steam which helps to wilt and cook the leaves quickly. This is sacrilege to gourmet Chinese chefs but it works and speeds up the cooking process. Don't overdo it as you don't want the temperature to drop too much and you don't want to boil the vegetables - just a splash is all that is needed.
5. Protein - Add 1-2 teaspoons of oil and add the remaining half of the ginger, garlic and chili. This helps to directly flavour the protein. Allow the pan to reach maximum heat. Do the protein in batches so as to keep the pan as hot as possible. This depends on you pan and heating method.
Cook the chicken thoroughly. You can leave the Beef and Pork with a tiny amount of pink color. You want to just cook the meat and the final cooking will occur during the later stages. Remove the batches as you go.
6. Reassemble - When the last batch of protein is cooked, add all the cooked ingredients back into the pan for the final assembly. Turn the heat down to medium. Stir to mix. Only minor extra cooing is required.
7. Add the flavouring sauce and glistening thickener - The aim is to thicken the sauce and add glistening. This isn't necessary unless you like it this way. You can simple add soy sauce and a little sesame oil. The first sauce is a mixture of a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 teaspoons of water. Just add to the hot dish and stir. You can add soy sauce, salt, sugar, vinegar to supplement the flavor.
8. Add the herbs just before serving - The final stage is to add the fresh herbs such as coriander or basil. Roughly chop and sprinkle over the dish just before serving.
9. Serve the dish immediately over steamed rice.
Stir-Fry Recipes (follow the method above with the following ingredients)
Chicken Stir Fry
2 pounds (1 kg) chicken breasts or chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
1 head bok choy, chopped
1/4 pound green beans, diced
1 dozen mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
Beef Stir Fry
2 beef fillet steaks
250 g snow peas, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup roasted cashews
5 cm piece of ginger, grated
4 garlic crushed cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cooking wine
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Thai lime chicken recipe
5-6 thighs or 3 chicken breasts, cut into strips or bite-size pieces
a little white wine for stir-frying
2 tablespoon grape seed or other high temperature vegetable oil for stir-frying
handful of fresh basil
1 medium onion, cut vertically into thin wedge sections
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (or 1/2 tablespoon regular soy sauce)
2 tablespoon regular soy sauce
2 tablespoon canola, coconut, olive, or other healthy oils with a mild flavor
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6-8 lime leaves, cut into strips
1 fresh red chili, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
Make the sauce separately and add to the dish when cooked. Top with fresh basil.
Seafood and Vegetable Stir fry
2 spring onions, roughly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 cup broccoli, cut into florets
2 garlic cloves, chopped
large piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 squid (about 450 gm in total)
500 gm thick white fish fillet
350 gm raw medium king prawns
Pork Stir Fry
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons chili oil
1/2 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 green chili peppers, chopped
3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 pound pork tenderloin, cubed
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce