Traditional recipes

The wonderful world of stir fries

The wonderful world of stir fries

There’s a lot to love about a simple stir fry. Firstly the veggies make it out alive or close to it (or they are meant to anyway). They are a quick, colourful, highly nutritious, no-fuss meal. Stir fries are suited to pretty much to any meat or vegetable (although starchy vegetables are the exception here).

One of my favourite things about stir fries is that once you have cut up your meat, chicken fish or veg protein, sliced your vegetables into even sized pieces and whipped up a simple sauce your work is pretty much done. You may need to boil a jug to soak some noodles or turn on a rice cooker, but cooking your stir fry is over in the blink of an eye. There is only one rule when it comes to stir fries: ensure you have all your preparation done before you turn on the heat.

Think of stir fries as warm salads; make sure you add lots of different-coloured vegetables, leafy Asian greens, a small amount of marinated meat and finish it off with your favourite dressing. Stir fries can be served on top of rice or noodles but if you want to mix it up try serving them in lettuce cups or folded inside a thin omelette. The best thing about stir fries is they are pretty impossible to mess up and they are a great way of getting your kids to eat lots of vegetables in one sitting.

I love mixing it up when it comes to the noodles I add to my stir fry. More often than not I will opt for a gluten free option such as fresh or dried rice noodles or bean thread vermicelli. When I am feeling like a more Japanese-style stir fry I might splash out and spoil myself with a pure buckwheat soba noodle. More recently I found a delicious black bean spaghetti, which is absolutely amazing with stir fried beef and mushrooms. I must confess on those rare occasions I do weaken and reach for a wheat based noodle – thick, slippery, white Udon noodles do such a great job of drinking up rich flavoursome sauces.

On days when I don’t fancy noodles I tend to cook up a grain, cool it and add it to my stir fry. Rather than settling for your bog-standard fried rice I’ll use pearl barley, faro or spelt. The beauty of these grains is they are wonderful served piping hot or they make the perfect salad they following day.

The most important ingredient in a great stir fry is a good wok and it need not be expensive If you are lucky enough to have a Chinatown near you whip down there and grab a carbon steel one with a wooden handle (the metal handles are dangerous). Wash the wok well with soapy water to remove the coating the manufacturers put on the surface – this will be the last time your wok sees dishwashing liquid! Your wok needs to be seasoned before you use it. To do this you rub it with a mild flavour oil then heat it until the oil colours – you need to do this about 3-5 times. You must be sure to get it smoking hot, which is much easier to do if you have a gas hob. The seasoned coating will build up over time and create a wonderful non-stick surface.

When your work is ready to go bring your meat or your protein of choice to room temperature so you don’t drop the temperature of wok when you add it. As I mentioned above make sure you have taken the time to cut the meat and vegetables into evenly-sized pieces.

I love to marinate my meat or vegetable protein such as tempeh or tofu before I stir fry. Adding turmeric to any protein not only tenderises it but it makes more digestible, and throw in a bit of ginger to take a big load off your digestive system. Drain off the marinade before you cook your meat and reserve the marinade to use as your stir fry sauce (be sure to boil this as it has had raw meat in it). For those of you who feel as if they have a sluggish metabolism, slice up some long red chilli and add it to your stir fry to give your system a boost, as chilli has been found to increase your metabolism by up to 1/3 and this can be a great thing, particularly in winter when everything feels as if it slows right down.

Salt can sometimes be an issue in stir fries because one the main sauce ingredient is often soy sauce. There a few simple things you can do to keep the salt levels down in your stir fry. Measure your sauces instead of free pouring; I often see my friends stir fry and it looks more like a soup than a stir fry. Your food is only meant to be lightly coated in the sauce, not bathing in it. Use reduced-salt soy sauce and if you need to increase the amount of liquid use a homemade stock rather than more soy, as it will give your stir fry more flavour. Jamie’s Oriental pork with noodles uses low salt dark soy which is richer than your standard soy and the perfect partner for pork. Anytime you add noodles to your stir fry you will probably need to increase the sauce as noodles are thirsty little things and you no sooner add them to your wok than your sauce has vanished. Remember that stir fry sauces don’t need to be elaborate; they can be as simple as a little soy and a squeeze of lime thickened with tiny bit of cornflour. Jamie uses this combo in his Chicken Chow Mein and it works perfectly. A gentle reminder for celiacs or those with gluten intolerance, soy sauce contains gluten so make sure you substitute tamari for it instead. Make sure you check the labels of Asian sauces closely as many are thickened with wheat starch – another reason to buy your own sauces and make your own. Some corn flours also contain wheat, so again, check the ingredients list thoroughly.

So now we have sorted all of the ingredients out, it’s time to get cooking! Get the oil in your wok smoking hot – you will see the oil start to move in the pan – and a haze will appear on top of the oil. Now I want to point out here that you don’t need a lot of oil to cook a stir fry – just enough to fry your onions, garlic and ginger or whatever aromatics you are using. You may want to throw in a few drops of sesame oil for added flavour, and this can be done at the beginning or the end of cooking. Add your meat (or veg protein) to the hot oil in batches, as this will ensure it browns all over, then remove them from the wok so they don’t overcook. Now add your firm longer-to-cook vegetables such as carrots, celery and capsicum. This is where I add a splash or two of water to help the vegetables cook. Don’t be tempted to add any more oil, it simply doesn’t need it. Cook the vegetables for a couple of minutes or until they soften slightly – remember, you want to the vegetables still slightly firm in a stir fry. Finally, add the more delicate quicker-cooking vegetables and greens and your sauce mixture. If you are adding noodles, ensure they are well-drained and cut into manageable lengths and whack them in once the sauce is boiling along with your browned meat. Cook the stir fry until the vegetables are bright green and the meat is warmed through.

Top it off with some toasted nuts or sesame seeds, fresh herbs, fried Asian shallots, crisp sprouts or some thinly sliced chilli. Rinse out your wok but don’t use any soap as it will ruin the season. Simply use a brush to scrape it clean, then dry it completely on top of the hob and rub a little oil over the inside surface once is it cool. This will stop the wok from rusting and preserve the seasoned coating.


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I don't think of pasta for stir fry, I'll have to remember that!

I have some beef, or venison, stir fry recipes you may like. (forgive me, I just like to share. ) The recipes were designed for beef, I just use them w/ venison since I live in the wonderful world of deerland.

Healthy Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry Recipe

Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry INGREDIENTS

● 1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil, divided

● 3 green onions, thinly sliced

● 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, drained

● 2 tablespoons low-sodium, low-sugar soy sauce

● 1 red bell pepper, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

● 1 green bell pepper, cut into large, bite-sized pieces

Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Wrap tofu in a clean kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels and set on a large plate. Place a heavy object, like a frying pan, on top to press out liquid for about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove leaves from the cauliflower and chop the head into 4 large pieces. Grate cauliflower on the large holes of a box grater and set aside. To make in the food processor, cut the cauliflower into florets and pulse until small rice-sized pieces are formed.
  4. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add green onions and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add cauliflower rice and stir to coat in oil. Cover with a lid to steam, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat when rice is just cooked through, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Remove tofu from the towel, slice into bite-sized squares, and place in a large bowl. Toss tofu with soy sauce to evenly coat. (Note: You may want to marinate the tofu at this point.) Add cornstarch and toss again. Arrange in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Toss bell peppers and broccoli in remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on another parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  7. Remove from oven and serve over the previously prepared riced cauliflower mixture. Top with teriyaki sauce and shredded carrots.

Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories

I love Chinese food! Many years ago I was invited to be part of a medical delegation to China (I was a nurse) an I learned authentic Chinese food is NOTHING like what Americans expect. It's bright, flavorful, light, made with fresh ingredients, and is balanced in color, texture, and presentation. Authentic Chinese food isn't smothered in heavy brown gravy or the taste muted with salt and I decided to learn how to cook Asian food the right way.

After hours of research I found Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge and it's quickly become my favorite and most helpful and used book. It's more than a cookbook it's a journey through the art of stir-frying. Grace makes learning how to correctly stir fry interesting and fun with stories of the role woks play in the culture of Asian cooking and background information about why technique is important to get the best results from my wok. The book is loaded with color pictures that demonstrate everything from what the bottles of her suggested seasoning brands look like to cutting and cooking techniques to what the prepared meals look like.

I had become overwhelmed with all the contradictory information about which woks are the best without spending a lot of money along with other accessories that are needed. After reading Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge I realized Grace has simplified the whole process for me from first detailed information about the different kinds of woks: what sizes and materials are best, methods to correctly season one, how to properly clean and maintain one, how to cook with one, and so much more. I decided to follow all her step-by-step suggestions exactly. For example, she outlines different ways to season a wok and stated even a preseasoned wok with a factory coating needs proper seasoning to ensure it will be nonstick. I decided to try her favorite way, scrubbing the wok with a Brillo pad (the only time a scrubbing pad should be used!) then stir-fry scallions and fresh ginger in peanut oil. I'd read reviews people have written about their woks discoloring but because of Grace's information I knew this was a good thing and didn't worry.

Like her instructions for seasoning and cleaning my wok all information is explained and precise. What pantry items are part of a Chinese kitchen include suggested brand names she has found have the most authentic taste. What cooking utensils are helpful, including brand names. Sauce and seasonings are explained and again she includes suggested brands. There is so much information in the book's

300 pages! Also, a really helpful thing is the majority if seasonings and utensils can be found on Amazon although the spices are sometimes less expensive at my local store.

I finally decided to try a meal. I followed Grace's instructions on pages 54-55, Basic Steps for Stir-Frying, and made my first meal, Hot Pepper Beef on page 85. I don't tolerate spicy foods so I adjusted the amount of red pepper flakes, and it was delicious! The beef was tender and the vegetables bright and slightly crisp, and the juice enhanced the flavors rather than coating the food. I then decided to try making fajitas. They weren't as good but I realized that after making a fresh meal of the pepper beef the packaged fajita seasoning tasted thick, muddy, and not as appetizing. The next time I'm going to make my own from scratch.

I could go on but there's so much information that I believe would be helpful for anyone from a novice to seasoned cook that I think before buying a wok a person should read Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge! In her introduction she stated an old expression is "One wok runs to the sky's edge" which means "One who uses the wok becomes master of the cooking world." I doubt I'll become a master but I've realized wok cooking needn't be restricted to Asian cooking and I'll definitely be using my wok in preparing as many meals as possible. I'm seeing a nutritionist and I'm following a DASH/Mediterranean diet and I'm discovering my wok is perfect for stir-frying without the use of oils or butter.


  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 4 tsp Olive or Avocado Oil
  • 6-8 cups of Egg noodles
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic- Minced
  • 1/2 Red Onion-Chopped
  • 2 Cups Broccoli- Chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper- Sliced
  • 1 Cup Sugar Snap Peas
  • 3 Large Carrots- Sliced and Chopped in Half
  • 2 Cups Mushrooms- Sliced
  • 1/8 cup Spicy Sesame Oil
    • or mix Sesame oil, Coconut Aminos and Ginger together


    • Chicken Broth: I recommend using a low sodium broth to limit the amount of salt in your sauce. I prefer to use broth rather than water because it is more flavorful.
    • Soy Sauce: Look for a low sodium soy sauce to limit the sodium in your meal.
    • Honey: A little honey balances out the salty and savory flavors.
    • Sesame Oil: Just a little bit of sesame oil brings big flavor to your stir fry sauce.
    • Fresh Ginger and Garlic: Don’t be tempted to substitute ground ginger or garlic powder. Fresh garlic and ginger are essential to a flavorful stir fry sauce.
    • Cornstarch: You need cornstarch to thicken the sauce. When you add your sauce to the other stir fry ingredients in the hot pan, the cornstarch will thicken the sauce in just minutes.

    Option: Tenderising beef for stir fries

    Ever notice how the meat in Chinese dishes is so incredibly tender, and how your stir fries at home are just never the same? The secret is tenderising the meat – a method called velveting.

    That’s right. Your cheerful local Chinese restaurant is using economical stewing beef to make stir fries with ultra tender strips of beef by tenderising it!

    Find out how to use this simple, highly effective method: How to Tenderise Beef (the Chinese way).

    This is optional only, when wanting to make stir fries with economical beef or you simply want extra tender beef, Chinese restaurant style!

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    Vegetable Stir Fry Noodles – Mix and Match Recipe

    My vegetable stir fry noodles are endlessly flexible. If you want to recreate your favorite restaurant veggie lo mein dish, use lo mein noodles. It’s also delicious with rice noodles for a gluten free version, ramen noodles, spaghetti, linguini, fettuccini, or pad thai noodles.

    Use whatever noodles you have on hand.

    Use whatever noodles you have on hand. Ramen, rice noodles, lo mein noodles, spaghetti, linguini – it all works!

    And the same goes for vegetables. Use whatever you have on hand!

    The trick to the vegetables is that you want everything to cook at the same time, so I like to cut all my vegetables into matchstick sized pieces.

    Vegetables also cook down a ton so this vegetable stir fry noodle dish is a great way to use up a MASSIVE amount of vegetables. I used 6-7 cups of sliced veggies, and it wasn’t overly “veggie”.

    I used a fermented soy sauce in my veggie lo mein recipe, but feel free to use whatever you like best. A regular soy sauce works, or you can use tamari for a gluten free version, or even coconut aminos if you are trying to avoid soy.

    There’s only one ingredient in these vegetable stir fry noodles that is a non-negotiable and it’s sesame oil.

    You MUST use sesame oil to stir fry this dish.

    For starters, sesame oil is DELICIOUS. And the stir fry sauce is simple and contains only a handful of ingredients, and most of the flavor comes from the sesame oil. Please don’t make this recipe with olive oil or canola oil.

    Beef & Veggie Stir-fry

    & print of recipe
    • 1 lb top sirloin, cut into 2-inch-long, ¼-inch-thick slices
    • 1 Tbsp Asian sesame oil
    • 1 Tbsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
    • 12 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thickly sliced
    • 8 oz snow peas
    • 1 bunch green onions, sliced, divided
    • 1 cup cilantro leaves, divided
    • 5 Tbsp hoisin sauce

    1. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add ginger and mushrooms stir-
    fry until tender, about 3 minutes.

    2. Add meat to skillet stir-fry until browned but still pink in center, about 2 minutes. Add snow peas, half the green onions, and half the cilantro stir-fry 1 minute.

    3. Stir in hoisin sauté until peas are crisp-tender, 1–2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and cilantro.

    About the Author: Sarah Carter

    Sarah Carter is a health coach and dash diet advocate. Once Struggling with weight and hypertension, she turned to the dash diet which helped her to keep her hypertension in check and helped her keeping active and healthy lifestyle. She now actively blogs and coaches clients in discovering a new and healthy eating lifestyle.

    This loaded clam chowder tastes just like a dream. With bacon and cheese coating the top, you will be obsessed with every bite.

    In our last post, we shared with you our plan for the new year. We have amazing, veggie and fruit loaded recipes coming your way to fulfill our food goals for every month. This loaded clam chowder is not a recipe that goes with our 2018 meal plans, but is a part of our football posts. Just a few more posts and we are finally finished! We have loved this journey of creating game day food and are almost completely done! Even though this chowder does not fulfill our healthy food goals for the year, it is completely and amazingly delicious. If you want a cheat day to eat something incredible, then this is your recipe.

    We made this clam chowder to represent the Baltimore Ravens. We knew we needed to make something with seafood, and this was the perfect dish. It is especially great for these horribly cold days and will warm you right up! This loaded clam chowder tastes just like a dream. With bacon and cheese coating the top, you will be obsessed with every bite. Even though I have only been to Baltimore once, I am still pretty certain that you could easily find something this delicious at any great restaurant. With seafood being their staple, I am sure that this loaded clam chowder would make any Ravens fan satisfied and proud.

    When we made this loaded clam chowder, I could definitely picture people eating this in front of a football game. It is not your typical appetizer, but it sure is a hearty and fun meal. Any football fan would love to chow down this warm and perfect bowl of deliciousness. Put it in a bread bowl and see your guests become even more impressed!

    We have just one more post and our football recipes will finally be complete! It is so exciting to see them all come together. We will also be doing one big post with all of the recipes soon. Working on it seriously makes my mouth water so much! Looking back at every tasty game food and appetizer is a delicious tease. With so many fun food options, it is so hard to decide which one was our favorite. We loved all of them and know that you will too! Whether you make this for a football game or for a hearty, tasty dinner, we are certain that you will be glad you did. For other delicious soup recipes, check out our cheesy and delicious broccoli soup and our minestrone and ravioli soup.

    Thai Spiced Baked French Fries

    Guess what? My Thai Spiced French Fries have made it to the Alexia Foods top four in the semi finals of the Reinvent a Classic blogger contest. That means you can vote for them to become the next fry flavor to hit the stores in 2013. You can cast a vote every day (one time per 24 hour period) from now until March, 30th 2012. Each and every vote counts!

    Go ahead and click over to their Facebook page to vote & then come back to get the recipe to make them yourself…..

    If you don’t believe me how good these fries are then ask the Buddha above and the little girl in my pink ski jacket below (She came running downstairs in 90˚ weather modeling it.)

    There were a few things for certain when it came to my contest entry. I knew I wanted to use sweet potatoes and I wanted a unique flavor twist. The Thai spice adds lots of flavor. I also knew I wanted julienne cut fries because those are best for dipping.

    Around here we really like to dip. Ketchup works, so does aioli. We are not too picky. Do you like to dip?

    I asked the folks at Alexia if I could submit an entry for a “mixed bag” meaning a blend of half sweet potatoes and half russets. That was not allowed, so I needed to do that at home. I suggest you do too – as both potatoes make very good baked french fries……the russets were very tasty and they crisp up well.

    Although I was very tempted to submit my recipe for Indian Spice Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Aioli (which by the way are outstanding.) My husband and I talked out our strategy and decided perhaps the flavor of a yellow curry was not broad enough. People have a love/hate relationship with that spice.

    The Thai red curry spice blend seems to suit more palates. We enjoy the one that comes in a little jar by Thai Kitchen. This paste has aromatic herbs such as lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger) and fresh red chilis. I added a dash of cinnamon, a little bit more ginger and some lime juice to brighten up the flavor a bit more.

    Have you ever cooked with Thai red curry paste before? If so, what do you do like to make with it?

    You can check out more of my posts from the Alexia Challenge