Trial and error over a year pinpointed how to properly cook stir-fry so every bite is pure perfection.
The bane of my existence was cooking stir-fry, where every vegetable is properly cooked and serving a dish that was reasonably healthy.
This did not come easy. Cooking everything together over a hot-wok flame burned some pieces and undercooked others. Mixing raw chicken with veggies seemed wrong on a multitude of levels. And what was worse? Cooking it in the sauce at the onset, which resulted in plumes of smoke and charred chunks of sauce.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve set off smoke alarms a few times cooking this one. It’s my version of the dinner bell when I’m cooking stir fry! How my wife puts up with me I’ll never know.
I figured out that cooking each vegetable group separately comes with benefits. Certain items, like green onions, cook within minutes after you throw it into the wok. Peppers and squash take longer, close to ten minutes. This first revision did the trick – you can cook them separately to ensure they are tender with a dash of crispness.
Cooking with Pam, regardless of time in the wok, was a disaster. It erupted into smoke quicker than a Pompeiian volcano. And, my veggies resembled the leftover corpses after they were cooked.
This led to trying other oils, which did not help matters. Trick number two was using clarified butter. This little experiment was mind-blowing – I could crank the heat at full steam and the butter oil refused to burn. Of the joys of working with stubborn ingredients! This helped to perfect the stir-fry element of the dish.
The downside is a short lifespan as butter is 100% pure-saturated fat. In between cooking each veggie group, I started to use a colander to drain the remaining liquid fats off the cooked food. Yes, you lose some flavor, but enough remains to offer an exceptional flavor palette.
Last came the chicken. Previous wok experiments resulted in burnt and dry chicken, and turning down the heat made the chicken lifeless and flat. Clarified butter once again did the trick.
When one group of veggies is ‘drained,’ I add them to a big mixing bowl. I repeat the process 3-5 times depending on how many ingredients I am using then stir it all together so it’s properly mixed. There’s nothing worse than a stir-fry dish that delivers too much chicken and not enough veggies.
The last step is to simply add it back into the wok at medium-high heat and stir in the sauce. You can do anything here your stomach desires, but I’m keen on the Soy Vay brands. Always reliable, tasty and, no, they did not pay me to say that. There’s a special place in hell for bloggers that get paid to endorse products they don’t really like or use. To them, I say, SHAME!
Finally, do not serve this dish with regular rice. If you haven’t discovered the joys of sushi rice, I have a nice surprise for you. most supermarkets sell this version of rice and represents the icing on the cake.
This process has enabled me to build a special relationship with my wok. She’s one tough bitch, and you have to respect what I’ve put her through in the past after so many failed attempts. There’s no way to put a price on loyalty!
Using these tips to cook stir-fry will bring a smile to those you serve.
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