Whether you enjoy eating it as a mid-week meal or prefer cooking it on special occasions, there’s no denying that stir-fry meals are popular everywhere. They contain a delicious yet nutritionally-balanced meal in one bowl or plate.
They’re also straightforward to prepare and cook. But, despite the ease of preparation and cooking, do you feel that you haven’t mastered the process? If the answer’s yes, this handy guide is for you! Check out these seven tips to help you master the perfect stir-fry:
1. Only use fresh ingredients
Have you ever noticed that some meals you cook don’t seem as great to eat if you’re using ingredients that have been hanging around for a while? The freshness of all ingredients that you use when cooking meals plays a vital role in the finished result.
As you can imagine, that also applies to stir-fry dinners as well. On the day you are planning to cook a stir-fry, you should venture out to your local food market or grocery store and seek out the freshest ingredients for your meal.
2. Slice those fresh ingredients for maximum surface area
Stir-fry meals are undoubtedly a fusion of ingredients that boast a variety of textures and aromatic flavors. When you cook your fresh ingredients, it makes perfect sense to cut them in a way that results in a maximum sliced surface area.
You might not think the way you cut ingredients for a meal makes a lot of difference. But, try this time as an experiment to cut down with a bigger surface area in mind. You will soon discover how much of an impact the way you cut ingredients makes on your stir-fry.
3. Avoid using an ordinary frying pan
Go to any highly-regarded restaurant and if you can see into the kitchen, you’ll notice that the chefs always use woks when they cook stir-fry meals. Why? The answer is simple: they are perfect for handling temperature control.
Carbon woks, for example, have a large surface area and are excellent at retaining heat – this is important as you add ingredients. If you’re stuck for ideas on which carbon woks to use, take a look at this handy list of carbon woks for cooking for inspiration.
4. Add your ingredients in the right order
When you cook your stir-fry dishes, do you use finely-chopped ingredients such as garlic, ginger, and perhaps some lemongrass too? If the answer’s yes, you should be cooking those ingredients first before your vegetables and any meat, fish, or plant-based protein products.
Once you add finely-chopped ingredients, you need to simmer your wok over low heat. Doing so will ensure that you lock in their flavor and also they won’t taint the other ingredients. Remember to keep stirring those ingredients so they get evenly cooked.
5. Don’t forget to use the right amount of oil
Some people might tell you that you don’t need oil to cook a stir-fry meal. Advocates of oil-free cooking may even suggest using spray oils as an alternative, especially when it comes to calorie-counting.
All stir-fry meals get traditionally cooked with oil because it helps to raise heat levels in the wok. The idea of cooking a stir-fry meal in a wok is to do so fast and hot! The entire process shouldn’t get done over low heat, except for the ingredients in the previous point).
6. Always stir your ingredients as they cook
The thing about mastering the art of stir-fry cooking is that the whole cooking process must get carried out as fast as possible. With that in mind, you need to make sure that you’re constantly stirring what’s in your wok.
Doing so will guarantee that all your ingredients will get cooked evenly. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any part of those ingredients getting burnt in your wok! Be sure to stir everything from the middle towards the outer edges of the wok and vice-versa.
7. Make sure your stir-fry sauce is thick
Last but not least, you will no doubt be cooking your stir-fry meals using a particular sauce of your choosing. Regardless of the sauce type, it’s vital you keep it reasonably thick as you’re cooking and stirring your ingredients.
Of course, you don’t want to get to a point where your sauce is too thick and resembles gravy! You can use minimal amounts of cornstarch and water to thicken your stir-fry sauce.
Hopefully, this handy guide will have given you some tips and inspiration to create the perfect stir-fry. Good luck!