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Note: Chinese stir-fry

Stir frying Chinese food

I have been asked by many friends how to stir-fry Chinese food. I didn’t really know how to describe it, could only just reply ‘easy, very easy’…:)))… but I wasn’t joking, the basic method of Chinese stir-fry is not complicated at all. I know there are lots of packed ready-to-cook ‘Chinese stir fry vegetables’ or stir-fry sauces or even stir-fry oil on the shelves of the supermarket, but not for me — no.  I agree this might make cooking easy, but  the taste will never be the same (and those mixed vegs- strange combination for me:))). Actually, it doesn’t need much more effort to prepare everything yourself, and probably can save some money anyway. When you come back from work, tired, need to quickly fix dinner, stir-fry is really not bad idea.

The stir-fry I understand is to quickly cook the food on strong fire. This way, the very surface of the vegetable (for eg.) will get soft quickly, let the salt etc. go in, but still keep its own juice and taste, not mixed totally with the others. Dishes stir fried this way are generally very light, no thick sauce base, very different from, for instance, the ‘Cantonese OK sauce’. Thick sauces will mask the taste of the vegetables.

The basic Chinese stir-fry method

For the basic stir fry, all you need is a wok, oil, salt, and for most of the times, spring onions, ginger and garlic, you can even forget about all the other spices if you don’t have them at home. However, for the spring onions, ginger and garlic, they’d better be the fresh ones, not the powders.

Then it goes like this: place the wok on the fire, (normally a big strong fire), wait until the wok is dry from any water drop, (otherwise it could cause oil spill, you can get hurt), then pour 2-4 table spoons of oil, let oil heat up, then put well chopped spring onions, ginger and garlicin (depends on what you are cooking). When the nice smell of the spring onions, ginger and garlic start coming out, put the things you want to cook in – of course, leave things that get done quickly for the very end. Put salt when you stir fry everything together. (In case of the food gets too dry in the wok, put a few water drops, no need to use oil for that, if you don’t like it too oily)– That is it. — It is simple, easy and healthy, no? :))) Saying that, this kind of stir fry only works for easy to ingredients.  Other ingredients (like meat) need to be pre-cooked first, and will only need to be stir fried in the wok only very briefly.

Related posts:

Cooking note: the Chinese wok
Culture Note: Chinese Chopsticks
About the photos shown in this blog
Surprising and nice encounter with Tibetan food (I)

Discussion

2 Responses to “Note: Chinese stir-fry”

  1. >My problem has been with the wok itself. I've never been able to properly 'season' a wok, so I rely on non-stick. And then I get scared that heating non-stck surfaces at too high a temperature can release toxins. Any tips for me?

    Posted by maggiedon | April 20, 2011, 4:58 pm
  2. >:)) I just finished a post on 'wok', then saw your message.
    Nowadays, we normally all use non-stick, I think as long as there is no scratches on the surface of non-stick, (otherwise those scratched pieces would mix into the dish), it should be ok.
    Otherwise, if you are worried, traditional wok is made of 'iron', which is normally not non-stick. the wok needs to be 'prepared' first. Basically it is spreading the oil. So heat up a wok, (quite hot), pour some oil in, move around the wok, let oil 'go round and round' the wok, the remove the oil, and let the wok cook down. Now you can cook as usual, it is 'natural' non-stick.:))

    Posted by B@cookingsimplechineseathome | April 21, 2011, 3:13 pm

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