A stir-fry is a versatile, quick and delicious meal. On nights when I’m tired and want something fast this is my go-to dish.
You can combine different vegetables, proteins and aromatics to make dinners that are unique mixtures of color and taste. There’s little work involved in preparing a stir-fry, and it can be done ahead of time. Basically all you have to do is cut up some protein (chicken, seafood, beef, pork, tofu, tempeh or seitan). Cut up some aromatics such as garlic, ginger, or shallots. Then take some vegetables, rinse and slice them thin, and add them (in the order below) to a heated wok or frying pan, along with some vegetable oil or water.
What you want to do is cook your protein first on medium-high heat, remove it from the wok or frying pan then cook your aromatics and veggies. Add the protein back in at the end.
When you cook the vegetables, begin with the harder vegetables such as your root vegetables first. Cook the vegetables one variety at a time. Wait until they’re shiny before you add the next variety. Softer vegetables (thinly sliced carrots, mushrooms, onions) may take only a few minutes.
Vegetables should be tender yet still retain some crunch.
Sprinkling a pinch of sea salt over the vegetables draws just enough moisture to prevent sticking and will bring out the flavor. You may also sprinkle water over your vegetables to gain extra steam and heat.
Thinner slices and smaller pieces will cook faster and more evenly.
If you choose to use oil, heat a wok or a frying pan and add a small amount of oil (like peanut, sesame, or coconut oil). If you are making a small amount of vegetables, it may only be necessary to brush the wok or pan with oil.
If you choose to sauté with water, add one inch of water to your wok or pan, and bring to boil. Add thinly sliced vegetables, cover, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
At the end of cooking you may want to add a sauce, which you may thicken with cornstarch or arrowroot, for example, and season with ginger or garlic, to toss and coat your mixture. And you may want to squeeze some lemon or lime juice onto the dish and/or sprinkle with sesame seeds or peanuts.
The wonderful thing about a stir-fry is you can be creative and experiment with different ingredients.
You can vary your protein and vegetable combinations in so many ways:
- Onions, carrots, and snow peas
- Chinese cabbage or Bok Choy, mung bean sprouts, and scallions
- Leeks, carrots, and red peppers
- Onions, mushrooms, and zucchini with dried basil
- Watermelon radish, broccoli, mushrooms and garlic
- Eggplant, peppers, mushrooms and carrots
- Add tofu, tempeh, or meat or seafood for added protein
- Add cooked grains to the vegetables toward the end
- Add Swiss Chard, Asian greens or kale
Stir-Frying is a satisfying dinner on many levels: taste, easy preparation, fast to cook, creative and it looks great on the plate.