One of our favourite quick-and-easy midweek meals is a stir fry. It takes just minutes to prepare and can be super tasty with the right sauce and ingredients.
But, while packet sauces and a bag of ready chopped vegetables is fast and somewhat hearty it can sometimes taste lacklustre.
And, if it’s one of your family’s favourite meals they’ll be impressed if you manage to up the flavour, boost the crunch and turn out an altogether improved stir fry.
So, where do you start?
Well, here at the Daily Star, we spoke to a number of top chefs and food innovators to find out how we can make a cracking stir fry that exceeds expectations.
Mark Hartstone, chef proprietor at La Fosse at Cranborne, told us: “Stir fries are a great way of using parts of vegetables such as broccoli stalks that often get thrown away.
“Do not buy ready mixed cut vegetable bags. They’re expensive for what you actually get, and does not permit cooking the vegetables in the correct order.
“For sweet and sour use lesser cuts of meat such as chicken thighs or slow cooked pork belly. As the acidity of the sauce cuts through the richness of the meat.”
While, Andrew Johnstone, Innovation Development Chef at Asda, insisted that your tools made a big difference and explained the order in which you should add you vegetables.
Check out his advice below:
Have the correct pan or wok
Ensuring you have a large enough wok or frying pan is a stir fry must!
This gives all your ingredients enough space to fry and caramelise easily.
If your pan or wok is too small, you run the risk of vegetables overcrowding and steaming instead of crisping and frying.
Cut your vegetables strategically
Slice, dice, and chop your vegetables into approximately the same size so they cook in the same amount of time.
This is important if you’re cooking harder vegetables like carrots.
Or cut these tougher vegetables smaller than the softer ones so you can throw them all in at the same time.
Prepare everything before you heat up your wok
Chefs call it mise-en-place, meaning you have all your ingredients washed, dried, and chopped — and all in place for the cooking to begin.
Heat your pan before putting the oil in
When you drizzle cold oil to a hot wok, it prevents sticking.
You can tell the pan is hot enough by sprinkling a few droplets of water into the wok. When it sizzles and evaporates almost immediately, your pan is ready to be oiled.
This helps meat separate from the pan better after searing, helping to retain flavour, colour & texture.
Add your vegetables in order
Like tasting wines from red to white, go hard to soft in the order you toss in your vegetables.
Carrots and cauliflower florets go into the wok before beans sprouts, spinach, and other softer vegetables.
Our favourite tip here at the Daily Star? Cook your noodles separately and then rinse with cold water until cool.
Coat them in a small amount of oil before adding to the stir fry pan and they’ll crisp up slightly just like at the Chinese takeaway.
What’s your favourite cooking tip? Tell us in the comments…