How to make the ultimate stir-fry
Tired of soggy stir-fries? Follow these easy steps to make the best stir-fry of your life.
Stir-fries are quick, budget-friendly and versatile making them the perfect midweek meal. And while they are relatively easy to make, there is an art to making the perfect stir-fry. Whether you’re making a plant-based stir-fry or a meaty one, here are the steps to follow to make sure you get the very best results.
Make sure your veggies and protein are chopped and ready to fry. You have to work quickly when the heat is on.
Use oils with a high smoking point such as peanut, Woolies’ stir-fry oil, avocado or canola. Olive oil burns easily and will impart a bitter flavour. Sesame oil has a strong flavour, so add a few drops after cooking.
If you're using meat, use smaller pieces of meat or chicken so they cook quickly, and slice meat against the grain to ensure tenderness. Smaller pieces are also easier to pick up using chopsticks.
Cook the meat first, then remove from the pan. Add the aromatics, veggies and sauce. Cook, then return the meat to the pan. This ensures that the stir-fry doesn’t steam and that the veggies aren’t overcooked. If you’re using leftover cooked meat, toss it through at the end just to reheat.
Make sure your pan is very, very hot. You want the meat to start cooking immediately. Woks are great for making stir-fries directly over the coals. Also, make sure your pan is big enough for the ingredients to come directly into contact with it immediately.
If you’re using tofu, fry it in the aromatics, then remove it from the pan. Cook the veggies, then return the tofu once they’re cooked. This ensures the tofu doesn’t break up too much and absorbs the flavour.
Don’t overcook the veggies; they really just need to wilt. If you’re using frozen veggies, remember that they will release water so have a slurry (see step 8) ready to enrich and thicken the sauce.
Bonus tip: “Velveting” is what gives the meat in your stir-fry that glossy Chinese takeaway effect and keeps it juicy. Marinate 500 g meat or chicken in:
1 T oil
1 t cornflour
1 T soya sauce out of the fridge so it cooks faster and sears better.
Alternatively, make a slurry: mix 1 T cornflour with 1 T water and add to the stir-fry just before serving.