Everybody loves stir fry meals. Who doesn’t? Stir-frying is a Chinese cooking method where you cook small quantities of ingredients quickly by stirring them in very hot oil. Because the cooking oil gets hot under extreme heat, it’s recommended to use a wok.
A wok typically features a curved bottom and rounded edges, making it ideal for heating quickly and uniformly over a flame. Knowing how to cook stir fry in a wok correctly is very important. In this article, we are going to show you how to do it perfectly.
Step by Step: How to Cook Stir Fry in a Wok?
Time is an important thing when cooking stir-fry dishes. Before cooking, make sure you have all the ingredients ready. You don’t want to run around rushing to finish cutting some ingredients while others are cooking in the wok.
Have the wok cleaned, dried, seasoned, and all the ingredients chopped, diced, sliced, blanched, or in a way you want them. Cut the ingredients, including vegetables and meats in the same sizes to get even heat and easy layering on the wok.
Marinating should be the first step to consider doing before any stir-fry process. If you are cooking meaty foods, clean them, and then season with your favorite ingredients. Do this a few minutes before cook time and allow the flavors to lock in before adding them to the wok. Some of the common marinating ingredients include soy sauce, corn starch, a few tablespoons of oil, among others. Preparation beforehand is of paramount importance.
3. High smoke point oils
Not all oils are good when making a stir-fry. Some of the best cooking oil with high smoke points is peanut oil, vegetable oil, e.tc. Always have the best cooking oil in your pantry to withstand the high cooking temperatures and not burn your food. Soybean oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are good options to use. The recommended smoking point should be 400 F and above. For olive oil, use refined and avoid extra-virgin olive oil.
4. The right heat
The key to cooking a good stir-fry recipe is maintaining the right temperatures. This type of cooking method needs high heat, just like the one used in restaurants. The moment you start cooking, increase the temperature. You should maintain this high heat throughout the cooking time. Using a clean wok in a fire will not make the food stick to its surfaces. The sides of the wok take time to heat up compared to the center, which gets the most heat. Not all works retain heat, and if you notice the wok getting extremely hot and smoking, you can reduce the heat.
Aromatics; ginger, green onions, and garlic require low heat. If you cook these on high heat, they will burn and spoil the cooking. Since they don’t require the high heat needed for stir-frying, it is best to start with them. You can have them removed and set aside before increasing the heat for the other ingredients and then put the aromatics last.
5. What should I add first?
Different foods take different times to cook. For example, if you are preparing different types of foods, aromatics are what come first in most cases. Vegetables can come second before meaty ingredients. As aforementioned, the trick to getting a great stir-fried dish is by starting with foods that need low heat first, such as aromatics.
The ingredients that need to go inside the wok first depend on the category of the food. Some proteins will take about 7 minutes, while vegetables will take less time. Hard ingredients will take a longer time compared to tender ones.
Sauce and aromatics will take between one or two minutes. The rule of thumb is to cook based on the cooking time of each ingredient to avoid undercooking or overcooking some ingredients. It doesn’t matter whether you start cooking meaty foods, set aside, and then cook vegetables next, whatever works best for you.
6. No overcrowding
The perfect way to making a stir fry is by adding the right portion of ingredients on the wok. The quantity that goes inside determines the final results. If you have a lot of ingredients to cook, cooking in portions is important. Having the right quantity will give you even cooking.
If you are using a wok made of a material that is a poor conductor of heat, overcrowding it with ingredients is not advisable. The chances are that some ingredients won’t get the required heat. Others will also get overcooked.
Too many ingredients also reduce the wok’s heat, and as previously mentioned, it should stay hot the entire time of cooking. The foods should be concentrated at the center of a wok, mainly because that’s where the heat is concentrated.
7. Adding sauce
Not all stir-fry recipes call for recipes for the cooking process. We all like to eat our foods differently, and that’s a personal choice if you want the food to remain with its original tastes and flavors. Always create the sauce before cooking to save you from a last-minute rush and burning the food. A sauce adds more flavor and also moistens the dish. It adds thickness to the dish when properly cooked. Another way to thicken the dish is by using corn starch or water.
It’s all about fast cooking while ensuring no food is sticking to the wok. Constantly stirring the ingredients gives you even cooking. Stir as quickly as possible to keep up with the heat. Non-metallic spatulas and spoons are the right recommendations for use in a wok. It does not cause damage to the wok’s patina.
Read more: How to Cook Chicken in a Wok
The right technique is what is needed to get the perfect stir-fry. If you get to master how everything works, you’ll be having an easy time cooking the restaurant-style. To make it even tastier, add garnishing before serving. Flat bottomed woks work very well in stir-frying.
You get an easy stirring and tossing of the ingredients without any hustle. Suppose you know how every ingredient you have, you will never complain of a bad stir-fry again. It will be easier to work with any combination.