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Can someone tell me the secret to a stir fry?

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Old 02-06-2011, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default Can someone tell me the secret to a stir fry?

Because I just can't do it. HOW do you stir fry? I LOVE a good crisp/tender stir fry but I have never ever been able to do it at home. Can someone please start at the very beginning and talk me through it?

Thanks!
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:04 PM   #2
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It's tough to do a stir-fry like they do it in restaurants at home. Home stoves just don't put out the heat that a restaurant stove does, so a home stir-fry will always be a little different.

BUT! Different is still delicious. Here's how I do it:

- Chop vegetables evenly for even cooking and consider how long each will cook. Cut carrots and broccoli stalks, hard items which take longer to cook through, into smaller or thinner pieces. Meat, if you're using any, should be in really thin strips (I like mine with a marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, and a teeny bit of five-spice powder).

- Once you've chopped everything, heat a small amount of peanut or other high-smoke-point oil in your wok. There should be enough oil to leave a sheen of it about halfway up the wok. Some people leave a little puddle in the bowl of the wok, but with a well-seasoned wok, I don't find the pool of oil necessary. Drop a clove of garlic in there and rub it around to season the oil. Fish it out before cooking the meal.

- Once everything is HOT--as hot as you can get it on a home stove--add your meat (if any) to the center of the wok. Try to leave it alone for a couple of minutes to get a little sear on it before stirring. Then move it to the side after a couple more minutes of cooking. You don't need to take it out of the wok, just nudge it up the side a little.

- Add your other ingredients in reverse order of how quickly they cook. Slowest cookers like carrots go first so they have the most wok time. Stuff like sprouts and pea pods go in last. The beauty of this is that you get to decide what you like cooked firm and what you prefer to be softer, so you can tailor your stir-fry.

- If you're doing any kind of sauce aside from the residual flavorings on your meat/vegetables, move everything off to the side of the wok in a ring around a clear center which should have some liquid cooked off from the veggies in it. Add a little bit of cornstarch (a pinch or two, it's effective stuff and you don't need much) and stir it into the little puddle. Then bring all the other ingredients back to the center and mix everything thoroughly. You can skip this step if you're not into a thickened sauce; I often do and it still tastes delicious.

- Eat it up!

There are a lot of finer points like marinade ingredients, spices, and other flavoring agents that I skipped over because they're so much a matter of taste. Some people like shrimp paste and sriracha, other people like Tabasco and worcestershire sauce, other people like lemongrass and a couple of star anise pods...you know what you like better than we do, so play around with some of the possibilities. It's hard to go wrong.

I hope this helps!
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:06 PM   #3
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It really depends what you like... but I'll tell you how I do it. I start with a wok, but any big old pan will work.

I spray Pam cooking oil spray in the bottom and add diced garlic and chopped onions, stirring until translucent. Then I add any of the following that I have:

Add: chopped carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, basically any dense vegetable that I cook for a while.

When I ate potatoes I would chop and boil them first and then add them when they were soft.

Then add softer chopped vegetables like zucchini. Then add diced mushrooms and sprouts last and cook them briefly so they stay crunchy/firm.

Gently stir the whole time.

Meanwhile, I make the sauce in another pan. I put a million things in, so pick what you like and is on your diet. Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, any kind of curry, lite coconut milk, veggie broth, etc. I would skip the lite coconut milk, peanut butter, and sesame oil now because I eat low fat. Also soy sauce and teriyaki sauce have a ton of sodium which can make you retain water.

So whatever you use to make the sauce, mix it up, pour it on the stirfry and mix it all up and serve over brown rice.

I don't cook with cook books, but that's the basic gist. It's a great way to use up almost any veggie in the house and you can add tofu and a ton of other things.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:08 PM   #4
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We posted at the same time, but Nola Celeste and I both use the same kind of cooking order strategy which I think helps a lot.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:19 PM   #5
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Great detailed instructions - thanks!

I do a pineapple teryaki sauce using Lawry's bottled Teryaki with Pineapple Juice - about 2 tablespoons and then add unsweetened pineapple juice from canned chunk pineapple.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:20 PM   #6
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Yup, the key is to add stuff in the right order to get it all cooked just right, I think.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:22 PM   #7
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I read in WW magazine that you should heat your pan before you put the oil in it. Just dont use a non stick pan.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:34 PM   #8
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Thanks for all this info!

It's the carrots, broccoli, and cauli that I never seem to be able to cook. I end up with a pile of mush other stuff then some burnt/undercooked broccoil, etc. And it's not like I'm a horrible cook, this one area just totally confounds me. I LOVE a good stir fry, even without meat or lots of sauce, and would have it every day if I could just master the technique!
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:30 PM   #9
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If you're cramped for time, like I often am, I use frozen stir fry veggies.

In a wok or large pan, I coat with cooking spray.

Cook my meat (chicken, beef, pork) until browned. I add a little red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and some low-sodium soy sauce.

I then add my veggies, a tiny bit more soy sauce, cook until tender. Viola!
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:31 AM   #10
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trader joe's has a stir fry mix in their bagged refridgerated produce section that i swear by. i just brown my meat, make my sauce, saute my veg, and then toss everything in the sauce. takes all of 15 minutes
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:02 PM   #11
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Make sure your pot (or wok) is large enough for all your veggies! You need PLENTY of room to "swirl" or stir your veggies! Make sure you remove as much water as possible from all your ingredients too or your sauce will be all watery!
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:09 PM   #12
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i'm a little late coming to this- but here's something i'll do that helps me save on some time. i put the harder veggies in a microwave safe bowl w/ a lid and then a splash of water- and i steam them for like 2 or 3 minutes in the microwave. then i do my stir fry- the partial cook helps to get everything done at the same time.
i also think you need to have absolutely everything chopped and ready to go- and a super hot pan.
i use the corn starch to help get my sauce thickened too, makes a major difference in my opinion.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
Because I just can't do it. HOW do you stir fry? I LOVE a good crisp/tender stir fry but I have never ever been able to do it at home. Can someone please start at the very beginning and talk me through it?

Thanks!
I like to get my pan or wok nice and hot. Also I use sesame oil. Gives stir fry's a wonderful taste.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindseyLou View Post
If you're cramped for time, like I often am, I use frozen stir fry veggies.

In a wok or large pan, I coat with cooking spray.

Cook my meat (chicken, beef, pork) until browned. I add a little red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and some low-sodium soy sauce.

I then add my veggies, a tiny bit more soy sauce, cook until tender. Viola!
That is what I do... But I add Ginger.
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