Tips to make your stir fry taste like it’s straight from a street vendor in Sout East Asia…without the dodgy tummy! Tips from Rhonda Parkinson sourced from: http://chinesefood.about.com/library/weekly/aa060601a.htm
1. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need ahead of time.
2. Make sure all the food is cut according to directions before you start. Never try to prepare food while stir-frying.
3. Cut the ingredients in uniform-sized pieces so that they all cook at the same rate.
4. If you’re not following a recipe, a good rule of thumb is to cut everything into bite-sized pieces. Cut the vegetables on a diagonal to maximize exposure to the heat.
5. Heat the wok on medium-high to high heat for at least a minute before adding oil. (You may want to skip this step if you have a nonstick pan – it can damage the coating.)
6. Add the oil (up to 2 to 3 tablespoons depending on the dish; peanut, canola or other vegetable oils are good) so that it circles around the sides of the wok before reaching the bottom. This coats the sides of the wok in oil and the oil heats faster.
7. Before adding other ingredients, toss in a few pieces of garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes. This flavors the oil nicely. (Note: you may want to reduce the heat at this point to keep the aromatics from burning).
8. If the recipe calls for meat and vegetables, cook the meat first and set it aside. Add the meat back when the vegetables are almost cooked. This ensures that the meat is not overcooked, and that the meat and vegetables retain their individual flavors.
9. Meat is normally stir-fried on high heat to sear in the juices (individual recipes may differ).
10. Never add more than a cup of meat at a time to the wok. Lay the meat out flat. If necessary, stir-fry in batches.
11. Remove the meat from the wok when it changes color – for example the redness in the beef is gone. At this point the meat is approximately 80 percent cooked.
12. Stir-fry vegetables according to density, with the densest vegetables being stir-fried first and for the longest time. Denser vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and eggplant require more cooking time than green leafy vegetables such as bok choy.
13. If you’re uncertain about the order in which to stir-fry vegetables, the simplest solution is to stir-fry them separately, one at a time.
14. If possible, wash the vegetables ahead of time to ensure that they have drained and are not too wet.
15. On the other hand, if the vegetables are too dry, try adding a few drops of water while stir-frying.
16. To stir-fry, move a spatula through the wok, tossing the ingredients every few seconds.
17. When stir-frying meat, wait a few seconds before tossing so that it has a chance to brown; when stir-frying vegetables, begin moving them immediately.
18. When adding sauce or a cornstarch/water mixture, push the ingredients up to the side of the wok, forming a well in the middle. Add the sauce in the middle and stir to thicken before mixing with the other ingredients.
19. Once the dish is completed, taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
20. Serve the stir-fried dish immediately.