If stir fry is your go-to 30 min or less meal each week you are not alone. It’s such an easy way to combine multiple veggies, quickly, with few dishes to wash up after. The flavors are typically rich and satisfying and you can knock out your protein – carb – veggie needs in one dish. But as simple as stir-fry can be, it’s easy to miss the mark, so here are a couple of handy tips to keep in mind when you are making your next mixed masterpiece and a few recipes to try out.
Acquire the Right Tools
Stir fry experts agree, the best stir fry is made in a wok. And not just any wok, but a large wok preferably with hammered sides which gives grooves for meat/veg to hang out and either get more or less heat when needed. If you don’t have yourself a wok, opt for the largest non-stick pan you can find. Avoid using cast iron because while it can get hot enough, its weight will make it difficult to toss and flip, a necessary step in creating the perfect stir fry.
Kick Up the Heat
A hot wok / pan is key to proper cooking here so don’t be afraid to turn the heat up (and for those of us still suffering from hot summer temps, be sure to run the fan while you do this). Because you will be cooking at a high temperature you want to cook with an oil that has a high smoke point, so choose oils like avocado oil or grapeseed oil, which will save you the hassle of having to turn off the smoke detector while you are mid-stir.
Give Yourself Some Space
The reason why it’s best to cook with a large wok / pan is to allow your meat/veg to have space to “fry” rather than steam, which will happen if space is limited in the pan. So keep things open and free to allow for plenty of movement in the pan and proper cooking. Which leads to the next key tip…
Pre-Cut / Pre-Cook
Be like the boy scouts and “Be Prepared.” Make sure to have all your meats / veg / carbs prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. In fact the best stir fry recipes will cook ingredients separately and blend together at the end with sauce. Be sure as well to cut your ingredients into small enough portions that they cook fast and evenly. You might also try frying your protein before you begin (or baking your tofu if going vegetarian with your dish) so you can quickly toss it in the wok at just the precise time. Dry ingredients are also key. The less water in the pan, the easier to avoid the “steaming” effect.
It’s All About the Sauce and Aromatics
The flavor of a good stir fry comes from the sauce and the aromatics. The aro-what? you say? Aromatics are things like garlic, ginger, hot chilies, and lemongrass that when cooked at high heat will add the most kick to your favorite dishes. As for the sauce, a light hand here is key. You want your sauce to coat (not soak) your protein / veg / carbs so add it to the mix at the end.
Keep It Simple
When in doubt, simple is best. Try to pick 2 -3 of your favorite veggies and make those the star of the dish. Throw in your favorite protein, serve over your favorite carb (rice, noodles) and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect meal!
Why not give a few of our favorite stir fry recipes a whirl: