For my daughter, how to make a simple stir-fry;
1 – Technically a frying pan is suppose to be better than a wok for a stir-fry on a normal stove as it will heat far better the flat surface of the frying pan because there aren’t big flames that come up the sides of the wok for a good stir-fry. But nevertheless I use a wok because I find it easier to move around the vegetables, or meat or rice etc.
2 – Cook the meat separately to the vegetables, I cook the meat first. If you have a large amount of meat cook it in batches.
3 – For the perfect stir-fry cook each individual vegetable separately but again I don’t do this for family stir-fry, it’s time consuming. I would also say cooking each individual vegetable separately for one person is unnecessary, it’s such a small amount.
4 – If the stir-fry starts to dry out add a small amount of water (1-2tbsp) at a time to stop it burning.
5 – If you’re stir-frying chicken breast it will cook really fast so don’t over-cook it, it’s usually cooked in less than a minute. If using boneless chicken thighs like shown here you’ll have a bigger window before they become over-cooked allowing to be properly browned.
Marinade the chicken first, it will start to soak up some of the marinade while preparing the vegetables.
Some vegetables take a long time to cook and are better blanched first, something that I’ve seen done often (blanching is dropping the vegetables into pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes to start the cooking process). Another way to handle vegetables like green beans for example is to cut them really really small.
When you are ready to cook the meat, heat half tablespoon of oil until very hot. The oil will start to shimmer and just begin to smoke a little. Lift the meat from the marinade and drop into the wok and watch out for splattering, so stand back.
Spread the meat into one layer in order for better heat and therefore browning.
Keep stirring the meat until it’s cooked through. The best way to tell is to pick out one of the largest pieces of chicken and cut in half to check it has changed from a pinky pale colour to white inside.
Transfer the meat to a clean bowl and set aside while you cook the vegetables.
With a couple of papertowels scrunched up wipe down the wok to removed any burnt residue from the marinade which will turn nasty while cooking the vegetables.
Add a drop of oil, add the sliced onion and stir-fry it until it starts to go limp.
Add the vegetables.
Keep the vegetables stirring. At this point add a spoonful of your bottle sauce or you can add a bit of soy sauce and tablespoon of mirin. Add extra ginger if you like, get creative.
If the vegetables are getting too dry and beginning to burn but they’re not yet cooked to your liking add a tablespoon of water and do this again until they’re cooked.
When the vegetables are done to your liking add the meat.
Stir the meat in to warm through and it’s ready.
- ½ tablespoon of sunflower oil (or similar)
- 1 large chicken breast or 2-3 chicken boneless thighs, cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce or ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce (Japanese tends to be on the darker side)
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- ½ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
- 1 small clove garlic, sliced thinly (optional)
- ½ onion sliced
- 1 large carrot, sliced thinly
- 1 pepper, cut into pieces
- small handful of broccoli or green beans, cut into small pieces
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce ½ tablespoon mirin for the vegetables
- other vegetables you can add; thinly sliced cabbage, bean sprouts, thickly cut courgette.
- Marinade the meat with the soy sauce, mirin, ginger and garlic (if using) while preparing vegetables.
- When you're ready to cook, heat the oil until hot, you'll see it shimmer and just start to smoke, lift the meat from the marinade and add it to wok, stand back as it will spit. Spread the meat into one layer making sure the pieces make contact with the wok. Now stir it until cooked through.
- Remove meat from the wok into a clean bowl, put it aside.
- With some papertowel scrunched up, wipe down the wok of any marinade residue.
- Heat a few drops of oil in the wok, add the sliced onion and soften it for few seconds. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir for a few seconds.
- Add the sauce sauce and mirin or tablespoon of sauce and stir it in well. Add little water (tablespoon at a time) if vegetables are dry and burning. Stir until they are cooked to your liking.
- When vegetables ready add the meat and stir it in to warm through for a few seconds. Serve.