Sunday, May 3, 2009
Ancient Chinese Stir-Fry Secrets
Stir-frying is a Chinese method of cooking that is easy to do and requires very little preparation. All you need to do is to cut up the vegetables and meat that you intend to use for your stir-fry and you are ready to go. I like to use a combinati0n of snow peas, carrots, scallions, red bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and bean sprouts, as they are not only flavorful when cooked together but is also pleasing to the eye, with the various mix of colors. As for the choice of meat for stir-frying, pork (cut into thin strips) and shrimp are popular choices. Stir-frying large chunks of meat is not advisable as you want this dish to be quick and easy and not having to cook the meat for 30 minutes to an hour is a good thing. To provide additional flavoring to the dish, one can add a touch of oyster sauce, rice cooking wine and instead of using salt, try soy sauce instead.
Start off by sweating the onions and garlic in a wok. Add your choice of meat and cook it all the way through. Stir in some soy sauce, oyster sauce and some water and then add your hardy vegetables like carrots, red bell pepper, cauliflower and broccoli. Mix together everything in the wok and cover it to let the vegetables cook. To finish off this dish, add the vegetables that would wilt quickly like bean sprouts, snow peas and scallions and cook them together for just a couple of minutes. Add more water if you need to. To thicken up the sauce a little, use a touch of corn starch slurry (not too much or everything will clump together and be a starchy mess). You can also crack an egg into the sauce to thicken it up and give the sauce a unique texture.
For this dish, I'm also using cooked rice noodles and pan-frying them until they become crispy. This Hong Kong-style dish can be found in most Chinese restaurants. Now, arrange the noodles on your serving platter and pour your stir fry over it and you have yourself a delicious, easy-to-prepare meal for the family.
Above is another example of a stir-fry with another set of ingredients. You can practically use any type of vegetables that you want and not have to worry about it being conceptually wrong. That is the beauty of a Chinese stir-fry--there is no wrong or right way, as long as it turns out delicious in the end.
Shhhhhh......and that, my friends, is the big, ancient secret.