Stir fries are a wonderful, healthy, economical family meal. Not only are they tasty, they are bursting with health and nutrition and are full of colour, flavour and personality.
BUT…are your stir fries soggy and full of liquid, or are they gloriously sticky like your favourite take away from you Asian restaurant!
There are so many varieties of the good old stir fry so the only wisdom I can impart is on how to cook it successfully every time! Get that wok out guys and let’s get cooking!
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You don’t have to have a wok, a good old frying pan will be just as good. Sometimes woks are designed for gas so if you are using yours and the base doesn’t fully make contact with the stovetop, this could be an issue when trying to get that fabulous intense heat needed for ultimate stir fry success!
Remember, it’s all about keeping the heat up, the sizzle sizzling, in the pan the ENTIRE time you are cooking the stir fry. Once the veggies are in it’s okay to reduce the heat and even put the heat off, we only want those to ‘wilt’ or steam through anyway.
Always cut your meat and your vegetables super thin so that the cook time is short and sweet. It’s these little tricks and tips that will make your stir fry time happy instead of stressful!
Also, a sharp knife is a must. A blunt knife will make your slicing task tedious and time consuming, and you’ll get cranky before you’ve even started!
1-2 tablespoons peanut/canola/sunflower/rice bran oil
600g chicken/pork/beef strips
Marinade: 3 tablespoons honey or plum jam, 3 tablespoons soya sauce, 2 cloves garlic finely crushed, 2 tablespoons crushed ginger, 1-3 chillies finely chopped, 2 drops sesame oil (optional)
1 cup zucchini, finely sliced or spiralized
1 cup carrots, finely sliced or spiralized
1 cup red onion finely sliced.
2 cups finely sliced red or wombok cabbage
1 cup finely sliced red capsicum/red pepper
Peanut, chilli, herb bling for crunch
1/2 cup peanuts, crushed and pan toasted
1-2 chopped fresh chillies, or use about half a teaspoon dried
1/2 cup freshly chopped mint/basil/coriander…you decide!
Remember! Your mission is to keep the sizzle up in your pan…if the pan goes quiet on you, you need to back away from the pan, get some of the pan naked, and then let the pan get back to temperature. HOT HOT HOT !
Put the marinade ingredients over the thin meat strips. Stir to combine.
Heat and grease the pan with the oil. When the pan is smoking hot, add the marinated chicken in a pile on one side of the pan. Please don’t spread the meat over the pan, all that will do is smother the heat! Leave the meat in the pile until the first side of the meat that hit the pan, is beautifully brown and sexy and fragrant and sealed. You will need to have a sneaky look underneath one of the pieces using your tongs. Move that meat around by jiggling it with your tongs, but don’t stir too much. Don’t burn this! Keep checking!
ONLY when that meat is brown underneath do you do a half stir, so that some ‘new’ meat can hit the base of the pan. Keep doing this, keeping the sizzle high in the pan, until all the meat has been perfectly browned. This way your meat won’t stew and you can live happily ever after in the kitchen!
Once all the meat looks heavenly sticky and brown do you start adding the vegetables on the top. You can remove the meat from the pan if your pan is too small for all this action. Stir as much as you like now to get those vegetables hot and wilted right through. Check the seasoning and serve with rice, noodles, or just like that in a bowl with the heavenly peanut bling on top for valuable flavour and crunch!
Why not try this Chinese-style sweet and sour marinade on your next stir fry?
It’s so simple.
Sweet and Sour Marinade
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1/3 cup pineapple chunks blended to a puree (or just chop them up)
1 tablespoon Chinese Cooking wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Simply mix together and serve!