Quick and Easy Stir-Fry

CORRECTION: An important ingredient was mistakenly omitted from the recipe for Perfect Chinese Stir-Fry Sauce in a recent post, It’s All About the Sauce! This has been corrected to include 1/4 cup corn starch. Huge apologies and regrets if yours didn’t turn out exactly, well … perfect. Please try again!

I can’t think of a more perfect food than stir-fry. It makes good use of leftovers; it’s healthy and when prepared well, it’s fantastic!

Pam Anderson, author of CookSmart (Houghton Mifflin, $28 $6) says the reason most home stir-fry comes out a soggy mess: our home stovetops don’t get as hot as restaurant woks. Cooking everything in small batches and then removing the batches from the skillet or wok until the end is Anderson’s secret for making great stir-fry at home.

You can make stir-fry, start to finish in less than 30 minutes. The secret is to get all of your ingredients ready and within easy reach before you start, and your skillet as hot as possible.

Set your wok or a heavy skillet (non-stick or cast iron) on low heat. While it’s heating, get about one pound of protein ready and place within easy reach of the skillet. You can use shrimp (raw and peeled or canned, drained), fresh scallops, boneless chicken cut into strips; any type of red meat sliced thin or cubed tofu. Pour 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (or 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sweet sherry) over the protein. Toss so all of the pieces are coated.

Next, cut one onion into about 16 wedges and set to the side. Prepare one pound of vegetables—about four cups of any combination of sliced carrots, celery, scallions, mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini; snow peas stringed and canned water chestnuts and or baby corn, drained. Place the onion wedges and vegetables close to the skillet. Peel and mince 1 tablespoon each fresh ginger and garlic and place alongside the vegetables.

In a small dish combine 2 teaspoons corn starch with 2 tablespoons cold water or chicken broth. Stir until smooth and place close to the other ingredients along with 1 cup stir-fry sauce (fantastic recipe HERE, or find it ready-made in the supermarket’s Asian aisle) and cooking oil.

Once your ingredients are all at the ready, turn the skillet up to the high and turn on the exhaust fan. Quickly pour in 1 tablespoon oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Follow with half the protein. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and stir-fry the remaining protein, removing it as well when done.

Pour another 2 tablespoons oil into the skillet and follow quickly with the onion wedges, all the while leaving the temperature on high. Stir and cook the onion for about one minute. Add the minced ginger and garlic and continue to stir. Quickly follow with no more than 1 cup of vegetables and continue to stir-fry. After about 2 minutes remove these items from the skillet to the protein plate. Continue cooking the vegetables in small batches until done. Do not overcook.

Return all of the protein and vegetables to the sizzling hot skillet. Stir in the stir-fry sauce a little at a time until everything is nicely coated. You don’t want this to turn into soup, so go easy.

Stir in the cornstarch mixture and continue stirring until the sauce thickens and everything is coated with this glaze. If it gets too thick add a little water or chicken broth and continue to stir. You’re done!

Serve immediately over steamed rice. Serves 4. Yum!

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  • Ronald Jones

    Thank you for sharing the stir-fry brown sauce recipe. I just tried it today and everyone loved it. It’s truly the best sauce I’ve ever made. It’s exactly what you get in a Chinese restaurant. It’s a real keeper.