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How to Stir-Fry Like a Pro

by Elizabeth Young

published on 22 January 2015

These step-by-step tips from Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook will give you all the skills you need to achieve perfect results every time you stir fry.

When cooked with this method, meat is tender, vegetables are crisp, and they both have a unique fragrance. Because speed and instant control are essential, gas is preferable to electricity (cooking also takes longer on an electric burner). In Chinese cooking there are two types of deep-frying. In one, the ingredients are deep-fried until crisp and cooked through; in the other they are deep-fried just long enough to seal in their juices. This is known as “going through the oil”, and is a preparatory step to the sophisticated stir-frying invariably used in Chinese restaurants. Although it produces a more refined result in certain dishes it is not essential for everyday cooking.


Stir Fry

1. Stir-frying is a very quick cooking technique so prepare all the ingredients before you start. Add the marinade to the main ingredient and stir well. If oil is to be added, blend it in last.

Stir Fry

2. Heat the empty wok over a high heat until smoke rises (you may also notice a slight blue/rainbow effect at the bottom). Heating the wok before adding the oil prevents the meat or fish from sticking.

Stir Fry

3. Gently add the oil (usually about 45–60ml [3–4tbsp]), and swirl it around to coat half way up the side of the wok.

Stir Fry

4. If you’re using garlic, add this to the oil. Steady the wok with a gloved hand as you do so.

Stir Fry

5. As soon as the garlic has started to sizzle and take on colour, add the ginger. Stir.

Stir Fry

6. As soon as the ginger starts to sizzle add the white part only of the spring onion (the green part needs less cooking and is added later). Stir well.

Stir Fry

7. Add the main ingredient (meat, fish or shellfish). Slide the scoop under the food to the bottom of the wok; turn and toss until the food is partially cooked.

Stir Fry

8. Splash in the wine or sherry around the side of the wok and continue to stir until the sizzling subsides.

Stir Fry

9. Add any other ingredients which need heating or reheating and stir and toss.

Stir Fry

10. Make a well in the centre of the wok and pour in the well-mixed sauce. Stir until the sauce has thickened and turned glossy.

Stir Fry

11. Add the green parts of the spring onion which need the least cooking. Stir and toss briefly.

Stir Fry

12. Scoop out the stir-fried ingredients on to a warm serving plate. Serve immediately.


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