Chinese Stir-Frying Cooking Tips
1. Make sure you have all the ingredients you
need ahead of time.
2. Make sure all the food is cut according
to directions before you start. Never try to
prepare food while stir-frying.
3. For even cooking, cut all the ingredients
the same size.
4. If not following a recipe, cut all the
ingredients into bite-sized pieces.
5. Heat the wok on medium-high to high heat
for at least a minute before adding oil. (You
may want to skip this step if you have a
nonstick pan - it can damage the coating.)
6. Add the oil (up to 2 to 3 tablespoons
depending on the dish; peanut, canola or other vegetable oils are good) drizzling it so that it
coats both the sides and the bottom of the wok.
The oil heats faster this way.
7. Before adding other ingredients, season
the oil by cooking a few pieces of garlic and
ginger. (Note: you may want to reduce the heat
at this point to keep them from burning).
8. If the recipe calls for meat and
vegetables, cook the meat first and then set it
aside. Add the meat back when the vegetables are
almost cooked. This ensures that the meat is not
overcooked, and that the meat and vegetables
retain their individual flavors.
9. Meat is normally stir-fried on high heat
to seal in the juices (individual recipes can
10. Never add more than a cup of meat at a
time to the wok. Lay the meat out flat to cook.
11. Remove the meat from the wok when it
changes color - for example the redness in the
beef is gone. At this point the meat is
approximately 80 percent cooked.
12. Stir-fry vegetables according to density,
with the densest vegetables being stir-fried
first and for the longest time. Denser
vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and
eggplant require more cooking time than green
leafy vegetables such as bok choy.
13. If you're uncertain about the order in
which to stir-fry vegetables, the simplest
solution is to stir-fry them separately, one at
14. If possible, wash the vegetables ahead of
time to ensure that they have drained and are
not too wet.
15. Alternately, if the vegetables are too
dry, try adding a few drops of water while
17. When stir-frying meat, wait a few seconds
before tossing so that it has a chance to brown;
when stir-frying vegetables, begin moving them
18. When adding sauce to vegetables and/or
meat, form a "well" in the middle by pushing the
ingredients up the sides of the wok. Add the
sauce in the middle and stir to thicken before
combining with the other ingredients.
19. Once the dish is completed, taste and
adjust seasonings as desired.
20. Serve the stir-fried dish immediately.
Finally, a few words about cooking
temperatures. Some recipes give instructions on
whether to cook a dish at high, medium-high, or
medium heat, but others don't. In Chinese
Home Cooking, Helen Chen suggests starting
to cook at medium-high heat and then adjusting
the temperature up or down as needed on your
model of stove. Another option is to have a
second burner set on medium heat that you can
quickly move the wok to if you feel the food is
cooking too fast.