Author Topic: Do you make a mean stir fry?  (Read 7265 times)

CommonCents

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2386
Do you make a mean stir fry?
« on: November 03, 2014, 02:47:59 PM »
Our stir fries are quite "eh".  How do I make them delicious?  I'm positive some of it is in cooking temp/length etc, maybe it's also what we cook (tended to be things from our CSA, when we had it, so squash, carrots, onion, plus chicken with a teriyaki sauce, or sometimes kielbasa).  At my best guess, it's probably not hot enough and for too long a time, but my husband worries about things like undercooked chicken.  Please help post cooking techniques or recipes!  (Note: chicken, beef, sausage, shrimp are all good proteins, but we don't eat tofu.)

Another Reader

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4931
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2014, 03:14:33 PM »
Veri Veri Teriyaki and Trader Joe's Soyaki work well for a quick stir fry.  Easiest is to cut up chicken tenders (bought on sale at Sprouts), onions, and broccoli or green beans.  Cook the ingredients in your wok or stir fry pan at very high heat, then cover for one to two minutes to insure the meat is well done.  Remove the cover, sprinkle some cornstarch on top and stir in. Then add enough sauce to coat everything, toss, turn off the heat and immediately move the pan to a cool burner.  The secret is to cut up the onions and vegetables in sizes so they take the same amount of time to cook as the meat.  A little practice and you will have the ratio down.  Dinner in 20 minutes because you put the rice on first.

I always have frozen green beans on hand.  To use those, don't add them until the meat and onions are close to done.  Add them before about a minute you put the top on.

Electric ranges are very difficult to use for stir fry.  They just don't put out the concentrated heat of a flame.

senecando

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 486
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Madison, Wi
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2014, 03:19:09 PM »
Don't have any recipes, but I'd recommend having at least some of the following on hand:

* Chili Bean Paste
* Sichuan Peppercorns
* A good soy sauce (my fave is the one on the right)
* A delicious fish sauce

Russ

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2213
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Boulder, CO
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2014, 03:21:42 PM »
Our stir fries are quite "eh".

what's wrong with them? texture or flavor? what exactly are your current methods and ingredients?

Eric

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4058
  • Location: On my bike
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2014, 03:22:23 PM »
Cook one vegetable ingredient at a time, on high heat, for not very long.  You want it hot, but still crunchy.  I add a little soy sauce or water depending on ingredient and how much soy is already "stuck" on my pan.  (the water makes the evaporated soy back into soy)  And fresh ground pepper as needed.  Consider adding sliced/shredded cabbage and scrambled eggs.  Both add really good flavor.  Dump each cooked ingredient into a large bowel or tupperware for easy mixing before serving and easy storage after.

I'd consider cooking beef/chicken/shrimp either first or last on lower heat to ensure proper cooking unless you're slicing it really thin.  But really, stir fry is all about the vegetables, so get that part right and you'll have a tasty dish.

MySweets

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2014, 03:25:24 PM »
Add bean sprouts.

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6233
  • Location: BC
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2014, 03:25:58 PM »
Great post by serpent's tooth -- the key is to cook items individually or in small groups to 90%, then add back in at the end to the sauce and reheat quickly.

Your husband may feel better, if you pre-cook the chicken for example, and only add it in at the end for a final heat.   May not get all the flavour in there, but that is not what he's worried about.

I also use homemade chicken stock as a base for the sauce, instead of water to deglaze.    If you like sweet, add brown sugar, use soy sauce and /orvinegar, and for thick, use rice, tapioca or most commly, cornstarch.   Try different oils too, if you want to spend a bit. Add a bit of chili, garlic and (fresh) ginger is always good. Many recipes on the internet.

 We do like basic oyster sauce for ease of use versus flavour.

I like Eric's suggestion of cabbage, excellent flavour add, when shredded first.

DollarBill

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 902
  • Age: 44
  • Location: Austin TX
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2014, 03:26:38 PM »
Don't crowd the skillet...it will just steam things.

Another Reader

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4931
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2014, 03:27:54 PM »
Cooking individual ingredients is best, but that takes a lot of time.  The all at once method is faster but requires skill in matching cooking times.  It also works best for one or two portions.  Keeping the temperature high is difficult for a large volume of food.

Jon_Snow

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2868
  • Location: An Island in the Salish Sea (or Baja)
  • In Baja....there is no kale.
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2014, 03:35:02 PM »
My wife regards me as the "Stir-Fry Master". We probably have a stir fry at least twice a week.

A great way to use up any veggies whose shelf life (or fridge life) is running out. I think the fact that I am standing in the kitchen, chopping and cooking away, as she comes in the door from work probably makes them taste even better than they are. Never thought I would like being a "house husband" as much as I do.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2014, 03:37:23 PM by Jon_Snow »

Chranstronaut

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 705
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2014, 03:39:34 PM »
In addition to cooking things one at a time, I try not to let anything sit too long. I like a healthy amount of oil, but it will start to make the veggies pretty damn soggy if it's cooking too long.

I personally avoid teriaki sauce.  There's something about it that I don't really like the taste of.  I season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce, and also enjoy crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder and celery salt.

I like to start with onion, garlic and spices in the oil, then add tougher veggies like carrots or peppers.  It takes some practice to try and get these to stay a little crunchy but still well cooked, kind of more of a sear than a fry.  Agree with another poster that said not to stir too much.  After that I add soft veggies like mushrooms, stir a bit and let them sweat.  I'll often add more dry seasoning at this point.  Finally I add wilting stuff like spinach for just a few seconds and then turn the burner off to coast for a moment and wilt the leaves.

I'm sorry that you don't eat tofu, it's delicious in stir fry.  For anyone that cares, I believe the secret to good fried tofu is drying it out before hand.  I like to cut it into thin sections and pat them really dry.  Then I sprinkle celery salt and black pepper over it and cook it in the pan after all the veggies are done.  The drier you get it, the crispier it will cook and the less it's spit oil all over your stove.  Flip over once you have a golden brown starting to form and season the other side with more celery salt and pepper.  I stopped using soy sauce on them because it would form into a nasty burned mess before the tofu was done.  The pan should be pretty hot, but I usually have it lower than the veggies.

Other protein notes: Add eggs last or just before the wilted spinach before you shut off the burner and don't mix the liquid egg in with other veggies.  Let it firm up first to keep the segments heartier.

Datastache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 85
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2014, 04:47:49 PM »
My mother makes amazing stir-fry, but she'd have to tell you how she accomplishes it - all I know is that the more garlic and ginger, the better.

Setters-r-Better

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 110
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2014, 05:41:11 PM »
I really like my own stir fry now.
I can't believe you put kielbasa and stir fry in the same sentence!  Ok, I like to just use a little sesame seed oil, a little other oil like olive oil, garlic,  onion,  soy sauce,  splash of rice wine vinegar,  frozen stir fry mix, and nearly any meat. The meat is definitely tastier if you marinade it, but I almost never do. We really don't like ginger in ours, so we leave that out. The red pepper flakes are good also if you want a little heat. Cornstarch will give it that thicker, goupier texture if you like that.

jday

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2014, 05:50:06 PM »
use coconut oil and the various ethnic spices. cant go wrong with curry powder in my opinion.

tarheeldan

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 763
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2014, 06:47:28 PM »
I am very happy with my stir fry.

 I cook meat first, then veggies and cashew halves, toss in rice at the end.

Sauce is: fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and season with cracked peppercorns also, finish with sesame oil after removing from heat.

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2348
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2014, 07:01:11 PM »
I use a cast iron. Woks aren't very good for home cooking - woks expect much higher temperature than residential stovetops can do; they're meant to be used on 2- or 3- ring commercial burners to get the fire up high enough around the curved sides. I'm not saying they don't work, I'm saying that don't work nearly as well as you'd like them to, or as well as they can.

dodojojo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 549
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2014, 07:44:50 PM »
Very good advice so far.  Home cooks have to compensate or compromise as very few of us can get the super high heat generated by restaurant stoves.  Big seasoned woks and mega-heat make all the difference.  As it has already been pointed out, don't overcrowd a wok, no matter how big you think it is.  The wok may be big, but your home stove fire isn't.  Even in the restaurants, the cooks will cook one dish at a time in a wok.  It's not like they're making 4 orders of fried noodles in one go.  They will make 4 orders really fast.

For stir fries, it's vital to cook the protein separately and add it back in at the end.  Protein coming into contact with vegetable moisture will toughen.  Cooking the protein alone gives it that sear and char that I love.  I cook the protein first when the wok is pristine with hot oil.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3185
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2014, 08:00:53 PM »
Probably the PP is right about a wok, I just don't have one. I use a cast iron skillet.
 Lots of garlic, tons of garlic, is necessary for excellent stir fry! same for onion. Lots of onion! Those go in first, then small pieces of meat, sometimes lightly rolled in flour. then all of the vegs that you mention--I use whatever we've got on the countertop from our garden.

Sometimes I make it "dry."  Sometimes I make a sauce with: some sour (vinegar) some sweet (sugar) some salty (soy or fish sauce.) then add corn starch for thickener.


geekette

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1836
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2014, 09:03:25 PM »
Since I'll never be able to recreate authentic, here's an easy recipe we love, and it's a stir fry of sorts: sweet & sour pork quite unlike the deep fried stuff with red sauce you get a Chinese take out around here.  Dang good.  I tend to mix up the veggies (love to add red bell pepper and pineapple).

I've also used this brown garlice sauce (with less soy sauce as mentioned in the comments). 

The stir fry method others have described is about what I use on my wimpy electric stove and standard saute pan - hot oil (with garlic and ginger if desired), cook the meat first, remove, cook tougher veg, then add softer ones, then add back in the meat and sauce.

CommonCents

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2386
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2014, 09:43:46 PM »
Thanks all!   I'll respond in a bit more depth tomorrow, but yes we use a wok and do cook things mostly one at a time (certainly the protein which is 90% chicken - sorry to admit to the irregular kielbasa) sometimes the veggies get more batched. Issues are I think too much moisture in the pan, husband stirs it too frequently, too low of heat, cooked too long and not good sauce (beyond Teri - we actually have a really good Teri recipe in our family).  Meat is dry, veggies often more squishy than I want and just not so flavorful.

Allie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1626
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2014, 10:35:35 PM »
When I was traveling in China I ate a ton of street noodle stir fries.  My favorite stand used a very specific procedure that was just perfect.  Pick some veggies and shred them very finely.  My preference is carrots, peppers, onion, cabbage, bean sprouts.  But, really that is what we usually have languishing in the fridge.  I use a peeler to cut down the carrots.  End up with 2 cups, roughly.  Pick a precooked starch, noodles or rice.  2 cups of cold noodles is my preference.  If you want to add a meat, cook it ahead of time and slice it thinly or shred it.  I don't usually eat meat, so I can't help there.  For a protein we'll use an egg.

Next heat a large, heavy frying pan over high heat and add a couple tablespoons of oil.  Don't skimp, it makes a difference!  Stir fry veggies for a couple minutes.  Push all the veggies to one side of the pan and slide that side off the heat.  The street vendors accomplished this by tilting the wok around, but they didn't have a flat burner like I do, so I just scootch everything around.  Add some more oil to the part of the pan that is still on the burner and fry an egg or two and scramble it around.  Move the whole pan back on the burner and mix everything together.  Then, push everything back over to one side and move that side off the heat.  Add some oil, drop in your rice or noodles, into the pile of noodles pour 1/8 cup soy sauce, 1/8 c water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper.  Mix the seasonings into the noodles or rice then return the whole pan to the burner and mix everything together. 

I prefer more of the veggie/noodle flavor to come through.  My husband likes lots of seasoning.  As long as you keep the soy to water ratio at 1-1 and the sugar to salt to garlic ratio 1-1-1, you can't go wrong. 

It sounds so boring, but it really is stellar.  When I came home, I converted my husband from heavy sauces and lots of meat to this.  Plus, it should only take about 5 minutes to cook and uses up lots of leftovers! 

backandforth

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 53
Re: Do you make a mean stir fry?
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2014, 02:19:41 PM »
Make your own sauce not the pre mixed one. It tastes better, healthier and cost a lot less.For most part between minced ginger, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, salt, sugar and soy sauce and cooking wine you got most flavor covered, going fancier at require a trip to Asian grocery store for special sauces such as fermented black beans or special Chinese cooking wines, the spicy/numbing peppercorn etc