I Spy Stir-Fry

The world of stir-fry is varied, offering taste sensations from around the globe, particularly Asia. Many principles of stir-fry make this style of cooking a no-brainer. Learn its basics, and you’ll always have a quick, healthy meal readily at hand.

A wok is the best piece of equipment to use because its shape conducts heat well and allows for quick tossing, but a large, deep fry pan can also serve the purpose. Heat either before adding oil to ensure even heat. If you are using garlic, onions, or ginger root in the recipe, add them as the oil heats up to prevent burning—otherwise the oil should be quite hot before you add the rest of the ingredients. Quick cooking is essential to retaining the fresh, natural flavors and textures of the food without the need for a lot of oil.

Although most recipes call for a touch of sugar, omitting it does not greatly alter the finished product. If you are using meat, let it cook for a minute or two before stirring so that it cooks through. Adding a little liquid mixture for flavoring (see sidebar) after you’ve stir-fried veggies and/or protein is all you need for a delicious meal. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with a handful of ingredients and a tasty, nutritious stir-fry will be only minutes away.

With these on hand, you’re always just one wok away from a good stir-fry.

  • Garlic, onions, ginger root, scallions to flavor cooking oil
  • Peanut oil, canola oil—these oils are safe to use at high temperatures
  • Limes, lemons—squeeze a splash over cooked stir-fry and top serving platter with slices
  • Nuts, sesame seeds for nutritious garnish
  • Tempeh, tofu, chicken breast, fish, seafood, or beans for protein
  • Broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, carrots—veggie stand-bys
  • Sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce, and cornstarch for flavoring mixture: (1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil, ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce, with a tablespoon of cornstarch that’s been mixed into a few tablespoons cold water)

You’ve made a fabulous stir-fry. Serve it over the following:

  • Short-grain brown rice
  • Long-grain brown basmati rice
  • Mung noodles—many varieties (made from mung beans)
  • Rice noodles—many varieties; medium noodles work best in a stir-fry
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous