I was composing an entry and describing stir frying like I have done in so many entries before. I figured why keep repeating myself when I can create a separate entry about stir frying. That way, I can just refer to it in every entry that requires stir frying.
The way those Chinese cooks on TV toss the content of the wok, one would think that stir frying is only a matter of mixing, stirring and tossing. Well, yes and no. It is just mixing, stirring and tossing. But before you get to that part, you have to make sure that the ingredients have been prepared so that there is no way you can go wrong with the mixing, stirring and tossing.
1) Have all the ingredients ready before you start cooking. Stir frying is basically cooking over very high heat over a very short period of time. You can’t throw in one ingredient into the wok then go back to the chopping board to prepare the rest of the ingredients. If you do that, the first to go into the wok will be terribly overcooked (if not actually burnt) by the time you finish preparing everything else.
2) Cut the ingredients into roughly the same sizes to ensure even cooking.
3) If you’re using different types of vegetables such as a mixture of carrots, beans and leafy vegetables, you need to add to the wok first the one that takes longest to cook.
4) You can’t ditch the cooking oil. I know that the current fad is oil free cooking. But this is stir frying. If you don’t want any oil at all, forget stir frying and just boil, grill or broil your food.
5) High heat is essential especially in ensuring that the vegetables are tender-crisp by the time the dish is cooked.
6) You can’t stir fry in a sauce pan. Sauce pans are designed to keep the moisture in. To be more precise, when cooking with a sauce pan, a lot of the steam condenses on the sides and falls back as liquid into whatever you’re cooking. That’s why sauce pans are ideal for soups, sauces and stews. With stir-frying, accumulated moisture will turn the vegetables soggy. A wok is ideal but a frying pan is not a bad substitute.
7) Stir frying is a short cooking method. Therefore, it is important to cut all the ingredients — meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables — in small sizes.
I hope that’s helpful. :)