There are at least eight reasons to learn to stir-fry. Stir-fries are quick, easy, delicious, healthy, can be filling without being fattening, require little fuel to cook, and …. drum roll please … showcase seasonal vegetables. If your CSA box came stuffed with greens or you stocked up on what seems to be too many fresh vegetables at the store, then get out your wok.
Number 8? Stir-fries are handy make-ahead, ready-in-a-minute meals. You can whip up a stir-fry in less than thirty minutes, and do most of that work ahead of time if you want. Measure and chop ingredients between Zoom calls. When it’s time to eat, heat up the wok and put dinner on the table under ten minutes.
How to Get Ready to Stir-Fry
French chefs and culinary schools talk about the benefit of mise en place: having everything in place. This translates well to the need for speed in cooking a stir-fry. Have your spices, veg, and sauce ready to add boom boom boom. A hot wok makes cooking time fly.
Here’s what I do before turning on the heat. The numbers and letters in parentheses refer to the picture above.
- Cook rice, quinoa, or other barley to serve under your stir-fry if desired.
- Put oil in your electric wok if you have one or in a small bowl. (The e-wok heats up so quickly that you don’t need to preheat the pan.) I use peanut oil saved from mixing up natural-style peanut butter.
- Put minced garlic and ginger in one bowl (1a). You can also add the red-pepper flakes or chipotle (1b) to this bowl. These flavorings are the first things to hit the hot oil.
- Chop sturdy vegetables, such as bok choy stems (2a) and rainbow chard stems and carrots (2b) and put them in a bowl.
- Keep the spring onions separate from the other greens (3). They go in next to flavor the oil.
- Heap a plate with other chopped greens or delicate vegetables such as snow peas or pea shoots (4).
- Measure out beans, cubed tofu, or any other precooked food such as steamed eggplant (5). Legumes that work well in a stir-fry include chickpeas, adzuki beans, and mung beans.
- Measure soy sauce and miso into a small bowl (6). Use a small jar instead if you are adding a thickener such as cornstarch. Add other liquid flavorings to this container, such as sherry, mirin, or apple-cider vinegar. Stir or shake until smooth.
- Set aside a garnish (7). It can be a fancy edible flower or simply a pretty leaf or few circles of spring onion. It’s a no-cost way to make your meal more appealing.