A pan filled with meat and vegetables

How to Make Stir Fry Like a Rockstar—Quick and Easy!

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, tastes fantastic! 

A pan filled with meat and vegetables

Pam Anderson, author of How to Cook Without a Book, says the reason most home stir-fry comes out a soggy mess is that 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.

Heat a skillet

Set your wok or a heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) on low heat.

Ready the protein

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 over the protein. Toss so all of the pieces are coated.

Prep onion, vegetables, ginger

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.

Stir-fry sauce

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 (available in the supermarket Asian aisle,  online or make it ahead, yourself) and cooking oil.

Oil and protein

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. 

Next the vegetables

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.

Everyone in the pool

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 to 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

Serve over steamed rice. Serves 4. Yum!

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A pan filled with meat and vegetables
Print Recipe
4.5 from 2 votes

How to Stir-Fry Like a Rockstar—Quick & Easy

This is not a recipe because you do not need a recipe for stir fry. Stir fry is something you do, a technique. This is how to make awesomely perfect stir fry in less than 30 minutes using simple techniques, not a recipe! You are going to love this because you decide the ingredients according to what you have on hand. Get creative. 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.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4 servings
Cost: Varies!

Equipment

  • skillet, cast iron is best

Ingredients

  • 1 pound protein, shrimp, scallops, boneless chicken, beef, tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 onion, large cut into 16 wedges
  • 1 pound vegetables any combination of carrots, celery, scallions, mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, show pies, water chestnuts, baby corn, etc. cut and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth , or cold water
  • 1 cup stir-fry sauce store-bought or make it yourself, link to recipe in NOTES

Instructions

  • Set your wok or a heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) 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 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 (available in the supermarket Asian aisle,  online or make it ahead, yourself) 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 to 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 over steamed rice. Serves 4. Yum!

Notes

 

 

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6 replies
  1. Jackie says:

    4 stars
    The recipe was disappointing for me. You use Corn Starch and my beloved of 50 years is soooooo allergic to it. I think either my daughter in law or my daughter is allergic to it also. Not sure which one it is. i am saving the recipe because I can use it to make stir fry for church dinners. The stir fry is inexpensive (cheep) to make and easy to reheat in the Church Kitchen.

    Reply
  2. Karen Ranieri says:

    Totally 100% disagree about the soy sauce on the protein. Soy sauce burns easily and the resulting mess would discourage any beginner. wait to add the soy until you add everything together for the last minute of cooking.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      I have not had that result and probably because of “stir constantly then quickly remove to a plate.” However, your comment serves as a good warning … left for any time, the soy sauce may burn. Thanks

      Reply
      • Karen Ranieri says:

        P.S. Mary, I ADORE your column and site and LOVE your stir fry sauce!!!

        This is a a great dipping sauce for a final product– even raw veggies. Hope you try it!

        1/4 cup hoisin
        1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
        fresh grated ginger (i put a lot, but 2 tsp is good to start)
        1/s teaspoon to 1 tsp sesame oil
        1 to 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
        1 tablespoon soy sauce
        2 teaspoon olive oil
        2 tablespoons honey

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