How To Make Stir-Fry: 9 Tips & Tricks
When it comes to Asian stir-fry, the possibilities are endless. As the perfect weeknight fix, stir-fries are quick to put together while also providing a healthy balanced meal all in one bowl. You don’t need to be a wok expert to get it right, but you need to follow our basic rules to ensure that your dishes are delicious every time.
Creating your own recipes is that stir-fry is incredibly healthy when the proper ingredients are used. Due to the high heat, the ingredients will cook fast and retain more nutrients. In fact, you will only need about a tablespoon of oil to start the dish. The best part? The total time to make a delicious stir-fry is less than thirty minutes!
How To Make Stir-Fry Sauce
The stir-fry sauce is essential in stir-fry dishes. In Chinese cuisine, the sauce is thick and plentiful enough to soak into the white rice underneath. You can adjust the sauce based on your level of preference.
Here’s what you’ll need to create the ultimate stir-fry experience:
- Garlic cloves
- Red pepper flakes and red chili paste
- Oyster sauce
- Dark soy sauce
- Light or low sodium soy sauce
- Brown sugar
- Rice wine vinegar
- Teriyaki sauce (can be added in place of oyster sauce due to the tang and sweetness)
- Chicken broth
- Fresh ginger (powdered can work in a pinch)
How To Make a Stir-Fry
Choose a cooking oil with a high smoke point like soybean oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil. You’ll want to start with a tablespoon of your preferred oil in a pan and heat it up.
Once you’ve added the garlic and onion to soften, add the protein – allow to cook through before adding the sauce ingredients.
Slowly build the sauce until everything is in the pan and well-combined.
Toss in the veggies and incorporate them into the wok. Add the light broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for about two minutes, and then take it off the heat. Spoon over rice and garnish. Enjoy!
Here’s another excellent recipe for pad kra pao that’s easy to follow!
Prepare All the Ingredients Before Turning on the Heat
One of our best tips is to get your mise en place together. This means that all the ingredients should be measured, cut, peeled, sliced, and ready to use. For instance, all carrots and onions must be peeled and prepped, while other veggies that get thrown in whole, like snow peas or sugar snap peas, should be washed and ready to go.
Consider the Carbs
Carbohydrates are key. You’ll want to plan what carbs you’ll serve with your stir-fry. Why is this important? Stir-fry is a quick-paced dish that requires minimal waiting time. So, you’ll need to be ready ahead of time.
If you’re serving your stir-fry with white rice, make sure that you start steaming it before you start cooking. Will you use lo mein or soba noodles? Or do you prefer to top your stir-fry over a warm bowl of white rice? Whichever your preference, cook your carbs ahead of time, so they’re ready once the stir-fry is ready to eat!
Cook Protein in Batches
Even if you’re using a large skillet, cook your protein in batches. Why? To keep from crowding the pan. If you overcrowd the proteins, they won’t cook properly or unevenly. You want to make sure that you can control the environment and that all protein ingredients are completely cooked.
Chicken stir-fry recipes are also very popular, but proteins like chicken or other meats need that crispy caramelization on the outside. That will be hard to accomplish if there’s too much meat in the pan at once.
Don’t Cook Ice-Cold Meat
Getting the ingredients ready ahead of time includes letting the meat rest on the counter before cooking. It’s never recommended to cook cold meat. Why? Meat needs time to rest to keep the meat tender post-cook. If you take it straight from the fridge to the pan, you may run the risk of dry meat, and no amount of perfection in a sauce can save your meat after this.
Use a Wok or Cast-Iron Pan
For the best result, use a wok or large skillet. The ingredients are plentiful, and the sauce needs to move around and coat all the protein and veg. It can’t do this in a small pan, and you will end up burning half the ingredients and potentially undercooking the rest.
Start Cooking in Low Heat, Then Increase
Increasing the heat over time is the traditional way to cook a stir-fry meal. Seriously, that’s the secret to that excellent takeout you get once a week. A lot of stir-fry cooking is about control. Controlling the amount of heat you apply to your dish is one of those aspects.
Velvet the Meat
What do we mean by velvet the meat? Coat your meat in cornstarch prior to cooking. This allows the meat to cook perfectly, and you will have the most tender and juicy strips of beef or chicken imaginable.
The cornstarch helps the sauce stick to the meat, so each bite is perfectly coated with all the deliciousness you’ve created.
Add Ingredients According to Cook Time
You don’t have to cook vegetables, like zucchini, ahead of a protein like pork. The pork will take a considerably longer time to cook, even if the prep work is the same. So, by the time you get your pork in the pan, your vegetables will burn.
Based on their cook time, we recommend starting with a plan and deciding what order to add the ingredients. Some ingredients will take as little as 30 seconds to cook, while proteins like meat will require at least 20 minutes.
Don’t be afraid to cook the meat first and then remove it from the pan, to be added again at the end.
Add the Garnish
The garnish imparts flavors at the very end that you wouldn’t even realize were so essential until you forget to use them. Garnishes for stir-fry include sesame seeds, sesame oil, cashews, and green onions or scallions. They have a slightly sweet or nutty note to cut through some of the heavier flavors and add a lot to the aromatics. We eat with our eyes and noses first, so take care of them.
Popular Vegetable Stir-Fry
For vegetable stir-fry dishes, you want to make sure to add a lot of veggies. Green beans, mushrooms, and broccoli stir-fry recipes are perfect. These are veggies that can stand up as the main component but still pair well with others.
We also recommend checking out this garlic eggplant stir-fry recipe.
Popular Beef Stir-Fry
Any of our recommended stir-fry recipes can sub in beef as the main ingredient. The biggest thing you want to do when cooking heartier stir-fry dishes like beef is to balance the flavors.
Meat has a rich, savory note, so a balance with spice or tang will help keep the dish from being too heavy. You’ll be full without feeling overwhelmed!
Popular Chicken Stir-Fry
Chicken is a crowd favorite in stir-fry recipes, and for a good reason. It has a mild, light protein that soaks up flavor beautifully. Cut the chicken into thin bite-sized pieces to create the perfect stir-fry.
By now, you must be chomping to start your stir-fry dinner. We don’t blame you. With these tips and tricks, we are confident that your next stir-fry dish will be delicious and come together in a snap. It’s perfect for those weeknight dinners.
Worried about getting all the best ingredients? We’ve got all the ingredients here at Umamicart, the online Asian grocery store that delivers to your front door!
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get cooking!