Until recently, I have never mastered the stir fry. The easiest food EVER, right? Every recipe I’ve ever seen includes some sort of algorithm to figure out which foods need to go in first, second, and third. I always ended up with overcooked meat, undercooked broccoli, and perfect mushrooms. It was always an edible-with-enough-soy-sauce kind of dinner. When I wanted really good stir fry, I’d go to the local Mongolian BBQ. Oh, sorry. Am I drooling? That happens when I think about the Mongolian BBQ.
If you’ve never been, let me explain. You walk through the ingredient bar starting with the meat and moving on to the vegetables. You load up a bowl with all that you can fit in it, choose a sauce, add some seasonings and then they cook everything at once on a huge cook top. Smoke sausage, shrimp, broccoli, and red peppers go on the grill at the same time and off the grill at the same time yet they are always perfectly cooked. And they have a million (or a dozen) sauces to choose from for quite the variety.
Ask me why, in all the years of seeing this process, did it not occur to me that I can do my stir fry the same way at home. Go on. Ask me. It’s because I didn’t really care that much until going on a low grain diet. Now that I needed quick and easy meals that don’t involve grains, I needed to master the home stir fry. And master it in a way that didn’t involve putting each vegetable on a strict cooking schedule.
Here is my almost-all-at-once stir fry process followed by some sauce recipes.
Gather your ingredients. While you can feasibly use any vegetables, my preferred mix is shredded carrot, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and sweet peppers. I do not use peas as cooked peas are one of only two foods I refuse to eat (organ meats being the second. Yes, peas and organ meats rank roughly the same in my world). Since my family likes peas, I suppose I could add snap peas and pick them out like my kids do with the mushrooms.
For meat, I have to say that our local Costco carries a few types of chicken sausage that are AMAZING. They’re precooked so they’re really easy to slice and toss in the wok. The apple gouda ones are a favorite. However, the meat does not have to be precooked. Yes, you can cook the meat with all the vegetables. I recommend using thinly cut steak (cut while partially frozen) or small chunks of chicken for best results.
Preheat your wok. I use medium high heat. And when I say preheat, get that sucker going. While it is hot, add the oil you are going to use. I put in enough to cover the bottom of my wok and then I swirl it around and up the sides. I use olive oil but any oil that won’t smoke at a medium high stovetop temp works.
Time it. Make note of the time. This is how you will build your own recipes so it’s a good habit to get into when flying by the seat of your pants. There is nothing worse than creating a mind blowing meal and not being able to ever recreate it because you did not document the process. Well, there are a few things worse. Like a nuclear explosion. That would be worse.
Add your meat first. Let it hit that hot oil and sear up. If your meat is raw, wait until the outside of the meat is browned before adding the vegetables. The exception is shrimp. Those little ocean bugs cook quickly and can be treated like precooked meat. Add your vegetables on top of the meat. Let it sit a bit before starting to stir. Then stir by pushing the spatula all the way to the bottom of the wok and letting the uncooked parts fall to the bottom. Stir. Let sit. Stir. Let sit. This is the key to getting things browned rather than just cooked.
I call it done when the meat is cooked and the broccoli is how I like it. Yes, I go by the broccoli. Nothing ruins a dish faster than under or over cooked broccoli. Except a nuclear explosion, of course. Make note of the time again.
When the broccoli is pretty much where you want it, push all of the wok contents over to the side. Crack two eggs into the pan. Let them cook, untouched, until the whites are about half cooked.
When the whites are half cooked through, scramble the eggs and let them cook all the way through. When they’re fully cooked, stir them in with the rest of the stir fry. I like mine to have chunks of egg rather than tiny pieces but do what you like.
Toss in your sauce, stir around for a bit to heat and then serve! I like the throw a handful of spinach on top at the very end. Let it wilt and then stir it in with the rest. Anything I can do to get some more leafy greens into my family, I will do it.
Around here, I let the servants eat at the main table with the family.
You can use a premade sauce. Marinades, used sparingly, do make great sauces. Just raise your right hand… no, seriously, do it… and solemnly swear that you will never, ever defile such home cooked goodness with a prepackaged sauce that has high fructose corn syrup in it. It is not food and does not belong in your body. And it sure as hell does not belong in a recipe I lovingly blogged for you. Don’t.do.it.
Here are some homemade sauce “recipes” you might like instead. Please note the absence of high fructose corn syrup:
Juice from half a lemon
Lemon zest from have of the lemon, chopped into teeny pieces
Soy sauce to taste
Water to taste (add the water a tbs at a time until it’s watered down enough for your taste)
Garlic Ginger Sauce
1/4 C chicken stock
1 tbs fresh ginger root
1 clove fresh garlic
Watch it if you don’t use fresh ginger and garlic. You may need to adjust down or it’ll be too strong. The sauce needs to compliment the stir fry, not slap it on its ass and call it baby.
Sweet and Sour
1/4 C pineapple juice
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
Dash of red pepper if desired
Spicy Peanut Sauce
Equal parts water and peanut butter (I generally just do 1/4 c each)
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs oil (generic vegetable oil is fine)
1 clove garlic
red pepper to taste
Stir. Let sit. Serve. Enjoy.