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Stir-fry Basics

About Woks......

Types of woks

The wok comes in many sizes and is made with many types of materials, from carbon steel that makes for easy seasoning and cooking, to stainless and cast iron as gourmet label cookware. It comes either with two short, ear-like handles or with one long handle and one short one. It also comes in differing depths, from shallow to well-rounded and deep.

Round-bottomed versus flat-bottomed wok

The wok spatula has a rounded edge that fits the rounded contours of the wok, making it a breeze to toss and move about all the particles of food while cooking. When the stir-fry is complete, the spatula easily dishes out all the pieces of food from the wok surface,

including tiny pieces of chopped garlic without any food particles remaining in the wok.

With a flat bottom wok, the introduction of a slight angle where its bottom flattens out

makes tossing with the wok spatula a bit more challenging and less fun. Often times, your food is less evenly cooked. Particles of food caught around this edge sometimes end up overcooking or burning, making cleanup more of a chore and increasing the likelihood of scrubbing off some of the precious, hard-earned patina.

Season and clearing the wok

New woks are usually covered in machine oil or grease to prevent rust that needs to be

removed; steel wool works best. Place the now-clean wok on your range and turn the heat on the highest settingPour some corn, vegetable, or peanut oil in the bottom of the wok. You can spread this oil around by moving the wok or by using wet paper towels held by tongs. Continue this process until all of your wok interior has a brown or black patina, which will protect against rust.

When cleaning your wok rinse it with hot water. If something sticks and won't rinse away, sprinkle it with salt and rub with a paper towel until the object dislodges itself. After rinsing the wok, place it back on a hot burner to steam away any water. Dip a paper towel in oil and wipe down the inside for the first several times using your wok before putting it away.

Before Stir-Fry........

Do your prep work ahead of time.

Stir fry cooks quickly, and it will not allow much time for prepping during the cooking process. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need ahead of time.

Use dry vegetables

Wet vegetables can ruin a stir fry by adding moisture that is not needed. Stir fry is cooked quickly over high heat, and the vegetable should still have some snap left in after they are cooked. The wetness of a freshly washed and not dry vegetable could run the risk of having a sloppy or mushy stir fry.

Cutting all ingredients to approximately the same size.

This will help ensure even cooking. More dense vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower

may need a quick boil prior to stir frying because they take longer to cook. Meat needs be

cut thin and in small pieces.

Velveting the meat

Velveting is a technique in Chinese cuisine for preserving the moisture of meat while

cooking. Additionally, it provides a soft or "velvety" texture to the meat of any entrée. The

technique is applied to raw meat before cooking either in oil or in water. It involves precoating

the meat with a mixture of oil, egg white, corn starch, and sherry or rice wine. The meat can then be sautéed, stir-fried, deep-fried, simmered, or boiled.

velveting usually involves coating the raw,raw, sliced meat in a mixture containing rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch (and sometimes a small quantity of cooking oil), and letting it rest in this mixture for a while before cooking it.

Blanch vegetables before stir-fry

To prepare vegetables for stir-frying, blanching is the perfect way to jump-start the cooking process, especially for dense vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower (which usually take a while to stir-fry and often get soggy).

Blanching destroys the enzymes that turn green veggies brown and mushy over time or with cooking. This makes it perfect for preparing ingredients for recipes that rely on the bright green color. This technique cooks vegetables “just enough” while still leaving them crisp and fresh-tasting. Blanching also removes bitter flavors in some vegetables and is a simple way to soften the skin of tomatoes.

Good stir-fry veggies:

Carrot Snap pea, Broccoli, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Potato, Green bean, Celery


Cooking temperatures

Starting to cook at medium-high heat and then adjusting the temperature up or down as

needed on your model of stove. You can always turn off the heat if you feel the food is

cooking too fast.

Hot wok cold oil

When you stir-fry, first heat the wok over the high heat until hot, about a minute, then add the oil. Spread this oil around by moving the wok. Add the food carefully in the oil, this way you will not burn your food and the food won’t stick on the side of the wok. We called this “hot wok cold oil.”

Oil flavorings

The ingredients that are chopped finely enough that they readily give up their flavor and distribute themselves evenly throughout the dish. The most typical Chinese aromatics are garlic, ginger, and scallions, fresh chiles, spices like Sichuan peppercorns, herbs, or preserved and pickled vegetables. (Note: you may want to reduce the heat at this point to keep them from burning.)

Don't crowd the pan

It's better to prep extra ingredients and then store those away so that they're ready for a quick stir-when you want it because too much ingredients in the wok will affect the wok getting hot.

Brown meat first

If the recipe calls for meat and vegetables, brown the meat first, remove the meat from the wok when it changes color - for example the redness in the beef is gone. At this point the meat is approximately 80 percent cooked. Add the meat back when the vegetables are almost cooked. This ensures that the meat is not overcooked and that the meat and vegetables retain their individual flavors.

Stir-fry vegetables

Stir-fry vegetables according to density, with the densest vegetables being stir-fried first and for the longest time. Denser vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and eggplant require more cooking time than green leafy vegetables such as bok choy.If you're uncertain about the order in which to stir-fry vegetables, the simplest solution is to stir-fry them separately, one at a time. Keep moist but not soggy If vegetables are getting too dry ,splash a bit of water or broth into the pan to keep the vegetables from burning. Cooking over a high heat will also quickly cook the meat, preventing it from drying out.

Start stir-frying

When stir-frying meat, wait a few seconds before tossing so that it has a chance to brown. When stir-frying vegetables, begin moving them immediately. You're constantly moving the ingredients touching the hot bottom surface of the wok up to the top and bringing those on top down. This way, every piece of meat or vegetable gets cooked evenly and quickly.

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