Homemade stir fries make for quick and healthy weeknight meals. While the name may seem pretty self-explanatory, you can improve upon your meals by reading up on stir fry techniques. Learn to stir fry like a champ with the following tips.
1. If using a wok, make sure it’s seasoned. If you want an authentic stir fry, invest in a wok. You can go cheap, but make sure it’s carbon steel. When you buy a wok, it’s coated with industrial oil that needs to be scrubbed off thoroughly when you get home. Then, heat the wok on high, coat it with vegetable oil, and turn the heat to low. Leave it on the heat for about 15 minutes, then wash with water. This process is called “seasoning” your wok; it makes it non-stick. Never use soap in a wok.
If you don’t have a wok, just use a non-stick pan. Woks have better heat control, but regular pans work, too.
2. Chop ingredients evenly. This is not all about looks or technical prestige. Chopping your proteins and vegetables evenly ensures that they cook evenly. If you have large and small pieces of meat, some will be over-cooked and some will be under-cooked. Same with vegetables. You don’t have to use a ruler, but get everything as even as you can!
Use our produce Seasonality Chart to help you decide which vegetable to highlight in your stir fry.
3. Have your prep work done before you start frying. Things happen fast when you’re stir frying. Have everything chopped up and ready to go before you turn on the heat!
4. Cook proteins and vegetables separately. You’ll often find that stir-fry recipes instruct you to add your protein to the pan, cook it and then remove it before adding your vegetables. You may think you can skip a step by cooking the vegetables and protein at the same time, but there is a drawback to this method. If you want to get a crispy sear on your protein – which is nice whether it’s tofu, seafood, or meat we’re talking about – you’ll have to let the protein sit undisturbed for a few minutes so that it maintains contact with the hot pan. Vegetables, on the other hand, are best stirred almost constantly while fried (hence, “stir fry”).
5. Get good balance in your sauce. A good stir-fry sauce has a good balance between different elements – sweet, salty, spicy, acidic. Adjust your sauce so that no one element overpowers the others. A good recipe is a great start, but don’t be afraid to tweak it to fit your taste buds. Some common ingredients in stir-fry sauces are vinegars, soy sauce, mirin, chili paste and oyster sauce. Check out our Shrimp Stir Fry recipe.
6. Add aromatics. Aromatics, such as chilies, garlic, and ginger add a punch of aroma and flavor to your stir-fry. They’re also good for you, as they help prevent the types of damage that lead to heart disease and cancer. These ingredients add complexity and healthful properties to your stir fry; don’t consider them optional extras.
7. Garnish with healthy nuts. Cashews and pistachios are among the lowest-calorie nuts; they are decent sources of protein and great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart. Top your stir fry with chopped nuts for flavor, texture, and health benefits. Learn more about the health benefits of nuts here.
As you’re enjoying your delicious stir fry, pop over to the SkinnyMs. Pinterest page for tips, tricks and, of course, pretty pictures.