We all love takeout. But we don’t so much enjoy the added calories and the extra dollars. In this post, we show you how to quickly make a tasty stir-fry at home.
We will part with some of our culinary tricks and share how to make a delicious stir-fry in just a few minutes.
You won’t often get “healthy eating” options when you order takeout. Cooking a stir-fry at home, however, you can get the same yummy taste experience. Once you have mastered this, you will be making a stir-fry at home every week.
With just a few lean cuts of meat, a splash of stir-fry sauce and some veggies, you can create customized meals that are nutritious and can even use those leftovers you have from other meals.
Stir-frying is an Asian-derived quick cooking method. It involves cooking small, equal-sized bits of food in a splash of hot oil using a large skillet, pan or wok over a medium/high heat. This cooking style can help you retain the nutrients, crunch, and color of your vegetables.
Is a Wok Essential When Learning to Make a Stir-Fry?
It depends. You definitely need to buy a wok if you plan to make a stir-fry often. This particular pan has a conical base that is commonly used in Chinese cooking.
In the US, most of our cooktops are stoves instead of fires, so woks sold here tend to have a flat bottom. It is important to remember that there are woks available with a metal wok ring at the base so that you can set it on top of a gas burner.
If you don’t have a wok or don’t want to buy one just yet, a skillet will do the job. The reason why a wok would be preferable is the sloping sides of it.
This allows cooking to happen in stages. These sides work as an area where you can move ingredients to, moving then away from heat, so that nothing gets burned.
How to Make a Stir-Fry
Step #1 Choose Your Ingredients
There are ingredients that work better when stir-frying than others. In this step, we discuss the quantities of each ingredient you might need when cooking for 4 people.
Firstly, 1-2 tablespoons of oil are plenty. Secondly, you need to think about what oils you can use. Mostly any oil can be used. However, you will attain better results if you pick oils that have high smoking points. The key to crisp and flavorsome vegetables is to use high heat. Avocado oil is one such example of this type of oil. It reaches a much higher temperature than most oils before it starts to smoke. Avocado oil just happens to be one of the healthiest oils to cook with. Here is an article on some of the health benefits of Avocado oil. You might consider taking some time to read it.
Cooking Oil Dispenser
It is important to use some kind of cooking oil dispenser so that your oil is easy to dispense in your pan or wok. Here is a reasonably priced cooking oil dispenser that I use in my kitchen for my various oils. I like this dispenser because you can see if it needs filling.
Replacement caps are also available from Amazon and can be found here.
This is known as an aromatic and is commonplace in stir-fry recipes. Use two cloves of minced garlic. Later, if you need more or less garlic in your next stir fry, then you can adjust to your own personal tastes.
You should use about 4 cups of chopped raw vegetables. Vegetables that work well for stir-frying include:
- Bell peppers
- Green onions
- Leafy Asian greens in the “choy” family, eg, yu choy and bok choy
- Yellow / white onions
That said if you are in a hurry, a 16-ounce bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables will suffice.
Canned Asian Vegetables
Not everyone likes these. Fresh vegetables or frozen stir-fry vegetables are preferable but sometimes you are in a tight squeeze and need to use canned stir-fry vegetables. Here is what I would use if needed. This includes baby corn, sliced water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. If you choose to add these, substitute some of the fresh vegetables from above. Don’t forget to drain them thoroughly beforehand.
Use quick-cooking seafood or tender meat. These include:
- Chicken breasts
- Lean boneless lamb
- Lean boneless pork
- Sirloin steak
We recommend using 12 ounces to 1 pound of protein. If you are vegetarian, you could use 10.5 ounces of extra-firm tofu. For those of you not wanting to use tofu or meat, just add more veggies.
Sometimes you need a tofu press to firm-out the tofu you bought at the store. Here is a handy gadget that will work just fine if you like your tofu firm. Check it out at Amazon here.
Supermarkets stock a variety of ready-to-use stir-fry sauces. For 4 servings use ⅔ cup. If you prefer to use your own sauce, you can use this quick Orange-Soy Stir-Fry Sauce recipe.
Step #2 Prepare Your Ingredients
The process of stir-frying is speedy, so prepare all your ingredients before you even turn on your stove. Get them all ready and place them near your stove in small bowls or on small plates. Now you can focus on your stir-fry without the pressure or stress of prepping your next ingredient.
Meat – slice into bite-sized chunks. You will find that cutting lamb, pork, beef, and chicken is easier if you freeze them for 20 minutes first.
Garlic – mince your garlic. If you want you can use sliced garlic but you need to make sure that the pieces are very thinly sliced.
Vegetables – chop into bite-sized chunks, trying to keep them pretty much uniform in size. The same size ensures that they are all cooked to the same degree.
Stir-Fry Sauce – if you are making this from scratch, keep this near your cooking area. If you are using a shop-bought option, measure out the quantity you need beforehand.
Nuts and Others – measure out the quantities you need to use.
Rice – if you are serving rice with your stir-fry, cook it in a rice cooker so that it is ready when your stir-fry is done. The rice cooker below comes with very high ratings from Amazon. I would suggest that you read the Product Description offered by Amazon to see the many uses for this cooker.
Step #3 Cook, Cook, Cook
- Heat the oil in your chosen pan over medium-high heat until your oil starts to shimmer. If using a skillet, the pan should measure about 12” across.
- If using, add garlic and stir for 15 seconds.
- Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add in your vegetables. Cook for 2-4 minutes, until they are crisp-tender.
- Remove vegetables from your pan.
- Add more oil to the pan if you need to.
- Add your chosen protein. Cook and stir until cooked through. You can prepare your protein in batches if your pan is overcrowded. Overcrowding will mean that your proteins will not fry, but steam cook instead.
- Push the cooked protein from the center of your wok to the sides.
- Add your sauce to the center of your pan.
- Cook until the sauce bubbles. This may take 1-2 minutes.
- Return your cooked vegetables to the pan.
- Stir until everything is thoroughly coated with sauce and heated throughout.
- Sprinkle chopped nuts over individual servings, if desired.
- Serve with hot cooked noodles, rice or Asian Ramen Noodle Slaw.
The Stir-Fry Vegetable Side Dish
Check out these wok tools at Amazon to complete your setup.
If you want this quick side dish as a snack, follow these instructions.
- Heat a tablespoon oil in your pan over medium-high
- When your oil shimmers, add the vegetables
- Stir constantly with a heatproof silicone spatula or wooden spoon
- When they are crisp-tender, remove from pan
- Serve and enjoy
The Very Best Post Stir-Fry Sauce
My favorite sauce to use on fish deep fried in a wok or any kind of stir-fry is this Robert Rothschild Farm Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce (40oz) – Glaze & Finishing Sauce. Trust me this the very best Sweet & Spicy Sauce for Chicken, Fish, Pork, Shrimp, and any kind of Stir-Fry. It is All Natural, Gluten-Free & Certified Kosher. Be nice to yourself and check it out here at Amazon. You will thank me later. Just writing about this sauce makes my mouth water! OMG is it good! It is the best balance between sweet and spicy.
What Should My Wok Patina Look Like?
Your wok will change color over time to light brown (tan) then dark brown and eventually black. These patina changes help to season your wok. It is a Good Thing!
What is a Mandarin Wok?
Mandarin woks usually have only one long handle. This long handle is made of steel with a wooden or bamboo insert or can be without an insert. I also go over Cantonese and POW woks.
How to Season a Wok With Wooden Handles
Both wooden or bamboo handles must be protected during the seasoning process in order to preserve the color and composition of the handles. If you follow these seasoning instructions you will preserve you wok handles.
How to Clean a Wok with Burnt Food
The best way to clean stuck-food on your wok is to use a plastic credit card to scrape off the food. By using this method, you will find that the credit card will conform to the sides of your wok and cause no damage to the patina.
What is a Wok Used For?
Besides stir-frying, you will find your wok perfect for deep frying, stewing, steaming, braising, or even for the perfect bowl of popcorn! Yum...
What is the Best Oil to Use With a Wok?
Using the right oil for your stir-fry is the first step to a wonderful dish. No matter what oil you choose, try to use organic oil which does not have any GMO ingredients.