Who doesn't like a good Stir Fry? In my opinion I do love them for multiple reasons. First I must confess that a Stirfry does increase my vegetable intake: Brownie point number one. Second I love the stirring and the frying, the sizzling, the scent of it all being done so fast. It is like a :'Yes my girl, Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes.' This speed of cooking has to be a Brownie Point number two. Thirdly my man and I do enjoy Stir Fry nights, they are pleasuring tasty, fast and healthy dinners.
A nice fullfilling, colourful plate full of flavours.
My little brother who is a Cook gave me one day for my birthday a Ken Hom wok. I was studying at university at that time and living a rather busy life. Gosh, if I may swear what a wonderful present it was. It was the discovery of healthy, nutritious fast food using the wok. But also an introduction to new ingredients which I was not used to like Ginger... It was a welcome to the World Wide Wok!
Once the spices are rendered, it is the time for the Meat, Fish or main Veg to go to the Wok.
There are two main techniques for Strir Frying: Bao and Chao.
The Bao methods tends to be crispier and the ingredients chopped very finely.
On the other hand the Chao technique gives softer ingredients which do not necessarely have to be cut or chopped.
The way to do a Stir Fry is relatively simple, satisfying and in stages. It could work in a wok like simple mathematic: one plus one equals two and so on... But it can reach the beautiful art of a symphonic equation which tingles your taste buds to great wonder: E=mc2.
To relativise my own little way of doing Stir Fry, I will classify myself as more Chao (With an S at the end for me doing it) than Bao. But then who knows, leave me in the kitchen and I will try to do something, anything with what I have or did plan, or forgot the plan plan in my head. So for me it will be E for Energy equals meal cook for two.
So let us mention the stages:
First I use an oil, not very much just enough to cover the base of the wok. I use a neutral sort of oil to start with. A vegetable oil does the trick, a rapeseed oil is very decent but I will rate peanut oil for its nutty flavour it imparts to the dish. I still need to try Soybean oil but never managed to find it locally.
Groundnut or Peanut oil is a nice addition to any pantry.
A tip is to heat your wok before putting the oil in. I read somewhere it should be 'Hot Wok, Cold Oil'. Then you add some seasonnings. Chopped, sliced or minced fresh Garlic always start my journey to a fragrant Stir Fry. Afterwards, I love the warmth of Ginger sliced, chopped or minced but also cut in little sticks. There is the issue of keeping the skin of a Ginger or to peel it. For me I like it either way. But for another tip, to get to the grooves and peel a Ginger a little tea spoon does the trick perfectly well. I would say better than a knife in my opinion and it is safer.
Ginger gives warmth to any dish.
I always bang on about liking Onions flavours. So a Stir Fry is never escaping from that one in my home. Spring Onions, sliced in either way, length way or else, I adore. The varieties of Scallions out there is large and there to be enjoyed. Otherwise shallots, pearls or better banana ones, finely chopped or sliced in rings can enhance the dish just as well.
Spring Onions are always a most welcomed addition to a Stir Fry.
Speaking of Aromatic spices, crushed Coriander seeds, Sechuan pepper, Chilli slices or seeds, crushed Cardanom can all help to elevate the dish to a warmer, hotter, spicier level.
Sichuan Pepper, a little kick warming the throat up.
Once the spices are scenting your wok and singing together: 'Touch me, touch me now, I want to feel your body', this is the time to put the flesh ingredients in the wok. May it be Fish, may it be Meat, May it be a fleshy Veg. And this is the time to use your spatula to good effect and stir. Let it brown a little, keep it moist, and give it the TLC that a good Stir fry need.
Then when the fleshy part is half to a quarter rendered, you can add more. The next level, for me is mainly the Veg. There you can sing 'Twist and Shout' and play with your Stir Fry.
You can go all the way with Umami flavour and Mushroom-y and use Enoki, Shiitake, Oyster Mushrooms, Brown Button Mushrooms and so many more. Add a little Kale or Nori Seaweed for a twist.
If you want to jive you can go all peppery and hot, long Sweet Peppers, chopped Chilles dried or fresh, Sechuan pepper, a zingy sliced Lemongrass, a juice of half a Lime and a very fleshy fish with some Pak Choi.
Pak Choi ready for the Stir Fry with other ingredients.
Let's not forget that you can learn to make Tofu dance in your palate amongst BeanSprouts, Chinese Cabbage, Rice wine, and Edamame beans with a good pinch of chilli slices.
Beansprouts like Noodles are a staple of a Stir Fry in my humble opinion. But I will go for either one or the other But not both together apart if I was feeding a crowd.
To finish the dish add all the last touches: the ones you only want to perfect your meal. My tendencies depending of the dish is to add rice wine vinegar, or/ and soya sauce the dark one, Terriaky and hoisin sauces have also my consideration. Sweet and Sour of course is one always home made or I have a jar at hand in a cupboard. But here is the trick you don't put all of them together. You have to choose what goes together so your Stir Fry don't end up being a Witches Brew.
Trust your Taste Buds to Perfect any Stir Fry. E=MC2. Love your palate and give it a kiss. Practice makes better... It is all relative to be honest.