THE PERFECT STIR-FRYServes: 4 Prep Time: 20 Minutes plus marinating time Cooking Time: 15 Minutes
Wherever possible, marinate your meat for at least a few hours or overnight if possible. Garlic, ginger, herbs, soy sauce, chilli, vinegar, seasoning and spices all work to flavour and tenderise the meat.
Make sure to use the correct oil for the wok. Sesame or peanut oil works best but a decent cooking oil or sunflower oil will do the job. Avoid olive oil at all costs as it will burn before it’s hot enough to stir-fry.
Stir-frying originated in China when there was a lack of fuel in the dark ages. The wok was invented so things could be cooked quickly at a high heat to help preserve the little fuel they had. Make sure the oil is smoking hot before you fry your meat but if you’re starting with garlic and ginger first, start the frying process in cooler oil to avoid burning.
Always start by stir-frying your meat first. If you are using beef, it should be seared quickly and removed from the wok while it is still pink. Transfer to a bowl or plate and keep it somewhere warm and add back to your cooked vegetables at the end.
For chicken, pork or prawns, make sure they are cooked through first before removing them from the pan and setting aside while the vegetables cook. Add them back to the wok at the end to warm back through.
It is very important to remove the meat from the pan while the vegetables are cooking – leaving it in will lead to dry, tough, overcooked meat every time.
Cut your vegetables to appropriate sizes and thicknesses to ensure that they all cook at the same time. For example, carrots and celery, will need to be cut thinner than courgettes as they take longer to cook.
Vegetables such as pak choi, bean sprouts and thinly sliced cabbage cooke really quickly and become very soft. They should be added at the end of the cooking process to stop this from happening.
Adding some crunch at the end will add an extra dimension to your stir-fry. Toasted sesame seeds, chopped peanuts or cashews, sliced fresh chillies or crispy fried shallots are great ways to add a last-minute crunch to your plate.
Pick a variety of coloured vegetables to liven up your stir-fries. Not only will they add nutritional value, but they will also add a bit of excitement into your midweek tea!
Stir Fry is all about the sauce! Soy, hoisin, oyster sauce, plum sauce, sweet chilli, sriracha, sweet soy, teriyaki or satay sauces are all available in your local supermarkets and should always be added towards the end of the cooking. There are also thousands of easy and authentic sauce recipes online which can be constructed in minutes and will add all sorts of pizazz to your stir-fries.
Like anything, your stir-fry needs salt and pepper throughout the cooking process. Whilst a lot of shop-bought sauces will have plenty of seasoning, a bit of salt and pepper sprinkled in at the start will offer a much tastier and well-rounded flavour rather than some un-seasoned, bland meat or vegetables sitting in a tasty sauce.