Create-Your-Own Stir-Fry

by Anne Bennett on May 23, 2010

To get us started in the world of stir-fry, here is a simple formula, adapted from Cooks Illustrated, that you can vary according to the vegetables and protein you have on hand. Stir-frying has multiple advantages: it’s an easy and quick method of cooking. It’s also inexpensive if you buy produce that’s in season. And the best part, it’s real food and it’s delicious! No wonder a billion people eat like this every day.


Shrimp, asparagus, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, green onions and grape tomatoes

A basic stir-fry sauce is included in this recipe, but if you’re pressed for time or an anti-cook (please do your best to get over it), there are a multitude of jarred stir-fry sauces in the ethnic section of any supermarket. I warn you, though: they will not taste as fresh as making your own.

Basic Stir Fry
Serves 4

3/4 lb. protein (boneless, skinless chicken breast, pork tenderloin, flank steak, shrimp), cut into small, bite-sized  pieces
2 t. low-sodium soy sauce
2 t. dry sherry
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. grated fresh ginger
2 green onions, white parts only, finely chopped
5 t. peanut oil
1 1/2 lbs. fresh vegetables, cut into uniform small pieces and divided into batches based on cooking times (see below)
1 recipe Basic Stir-fry Sauce (below)

Toss the protein with the soy sauce and sherry. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, green onions and 2 t. of the oil.

Heat 1 t. of the remaining oil in a non-stick skillet or wok over high heat until very hot. Add the protein and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl.

Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan and add the longer cooking vegetables. Cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the last teaspoon of oil and the faster cooking vegetables and cook until all the vegetables are crisp-tender, about a minute. If the vegetables do not seem to be sufficiently cooked, cover the skillet for a minute to let them steam.

Make a well in the center of the pan and add the garlic/ginger mixture into the center. Cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds and then stir this mixture into the vegetables. (By adding the garlic and ginger now you avoid scorching it.) Add back the protein and toss to combine.

Whisk the basic stir-fry sauce, add it to the pan and bring everything to a simmer. Toss until the protein and vegetables are coated in the sauce, plate and serve immediately.

Long-cooking Vegetables: Carrots, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, bok choy, eggplant
Short-cooking Vegetables: Spinach, tomatoes, snow peas

Very tough vegetables such as broccoli, green beans or cauliflower need a one-minute blanching in boiling water (or in the microwave) before adding along with the long-cooking vegetables.

Basic Stir-Fry Sauce:
This keeps in the refrigerator for several days, so if you’re cooking for two, simply save any remaining sauce for another day. Be sure to stir the sauce to recombine the cornstarch and other ingredients.

1/3 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 T. dry sherry
1 T. sugar
2 t. cornstarch
1 t. toasted sesame oil

If you want a spicy dish, sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Potka December 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Cindy, ya, faster cook and bring back the sweet meemiros.Felvinc, ya, the taste was greatNancy, I use the baking tray and put inside oven to grill it.Bakeling, lazy to write the recipe, i just use the normal ingrediants like shallot, garlic, lengkuas , fresh kunyit and serai, blend it and tasted with salt, sugar and add some coriander powder, thats all.Mia, pandan has a very aroma smell..

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