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Stir-Fry Recipe: Create Your Own

Why order takeout? With this simple method, you can create dozens of Chinese stir-fries at home.

by Robert Danhi

from Fine Cooking
Issue 58

A stir-fry has all the features of an ideal weeknight meal—it’s quick, nutritious, and delicious. But stir-frying on a home stove isn’t the same as stir-frying over the super-high temperatures that a Chinese restaurant chef uses. Too often, a home-cooked stir-fry falls prey to unevenly cooked vegetables, dry meat, scorched garlic, or a watery sauce. My method reorganizes the classic stir-frying method and calls for cutting the vegetables and meat so they all cook at the same rate. This way, you can reliably create a new dish each time and be assured of terrific results. This tool makes it easy: you just select the meat or seafood, vegetables, and sauce you want to use, and the amounts and instructions are generated automatically.

Tips for the perfect stir-fry

A skillet beats a wok for home stoves. The traditional method of stir-frying involves cooking in a wok over very high heat—with more oil than you’d believe. Most home stovetops, however, just don’t have the firepower to heat a wok adequately and evenly. Your best bet is a heavy 12-inch skillet. It conducts heat well, and the pan’s shallow sides allow extra moisture to evaporate, keeping the vegetables crisp and the meat tender. And you’ll use less oil, too.

To keep things sizzling, don’t overcrowd the pan. The trick is to stir-fry in batches—first the meat, chicken, or seafood and then the vegetables and the aromatics.

Just a bit of water prevents burning. Since I use much less oil than in a traditional stir-fry, sometimes my pan dries out and the vegetables begin to burn before they’re crisp-tender. If I see this happening, I add water, about a tablespoon at a time, to the pan to keep the process going without adding more oil.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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