The Secret to Stir-Fry

My biggest problem with making stir fry, was always that some stuff cooked too fast, and other stuff didn't cook fast enough. As a result, some ingredients got overcooked while the others were just getting done (or even worse, some stuff disintegrated from the "stir" part of the stir-fry element for other items -- this was always happening to my tofu cubes). I don't know how I heard about this, but I think I asked a Chinese grad student I studied with.

Apparently, it's perfectly kosher (so to speak) to cook stuff, then remove it from the pan, then cook other stuff, etc... So now I cook (for example) the chickeny strips first, and set them aside, then brown the tofu cubes, and set them aside, then do any veggies.

Actually, I do the veggies in a steamer, with the rice, to cut down on oil. Then I mix it all together, and add some store-bought "Chinese-Flavor" sauce. (You've probably figured out that I'm not the do-it-all-from-scratch type. I'm more of a do-some-of-it-from-scratch type...)

So as far as I'm concerned, that's the secret to stir-fry. I know, it's not a huge revelation, and it might not produce a style of stir-fry that you're used to, but hey, it works for me. I usually just mix it all together with the rice, to get a kind of fried-rice-type-thing.


Some ingredients I like to use:

chickeny strips
tofu cubes, browned so they don't fall apart with the other stuff
snow peas (or green beans, in a pinch)
onions (in big chunks so they can be picked out by the non-onionary)
water-chestnuts and/or bamboo shoots
cabbage or bok-choy, except that I don't ever need nearly as much as you have to buy at a time
mushrooms, except, I'd be the only one in the house who'd eat them

In the absence of (or in addition to) a store-bought sauce, I find that what makes stuff taste "Chinese" is:

soy sauce
sesame oil (be sure to get the flavorful type, not just the good-for you, no flavor type)
hot peppers, if you like that sort of thing

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