DigsMagazine.com make your stomach happy  .



a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation


editor's note 

o lounge 
o nourish 
o host

o send an ECARD

submit your ideas
support digs


got a food question? jump to the boards
looking for more recipe ideas? check out the recipe index!


copyright ©1999-2005

stir-fry crazy 
how to stir-fry

by Yee-Fan Sun
| 1 2 3 4

When you grow up in a Chinese household, stir-frying isn't so much a special culinary treat so much as plain old cooking. Rare was the night when my mom's wok wasn't heated up and sizzling away, and the range of tastes and textures that came out of that wok was amazing. So it never ceases to confuse me when occasionally, I'll hear someone say that they're having stir-fry for dinner, like stir-fry is an actual defined dish.
In reality, stir-frying's just another technique -- and despite its exotic Asian roots, it's really no more complicated than sautéing or baking, grilling or boiling. And the number of different dishes that you can produce via stir-fry is almost limitless -- once you get the technique down, that is. If your stir-fry repertoire thus far is limited to indistinguishable veggies drowned in soy sauce, check out our how-to guide for proper stir-fry technique…

prep it
Most of the real work in stir-frying comes before your ingredients ever make it near the stove. Preparedness, it turns out, is key when it comes to stir-frying properly; because the actual cooking happens so quickly, you won't have time to do any prep work once you start throwing stuff into the wok.

First up is any meat. Trim off any fatty bits and discard, then cut up the remainder into bite-size pieces. You can cut the meat into thin slices, dice it into chunks (about ½" works well), chop it into skinny matchstick-like shreds -- the shape isn't terribly important, but the size should be small enough that the meat will cook through completely in just a few minutes in the wok, and be easy to eat without aid of a knife.

Once you've cut up the meat, prepare your marinade. There are two basic marinades that I use -- a dark one that relies on soy sauce for flavoring, and a light one that uses wine and salt. Both versions also include cornstarch to help the flavorings absorb better into the meat. I generally use the dark marinade for red meats like beef and pork, and the light marinade for seafood (although seafood is also good just brined with salt). Chicken can go either way, depending upon what other ingredients I'm pairing with it. If the chicken's going with stronger-flavored ingredients like bell peppers, I'll usually marinate it in soy sauce; if I'm stir-frying it up with milder ingredients, like bean sprouts or sugar snap peas, I'll stick with the light sauce.

For 1/2 lb. of meat
Dark marinade = 1 Tbsp. soy sauce + 1 tsp. cornstarch
Light marinade = 1 Tbsp. white wine + 1/4 tsp. salt + 1 tsp. cornstarch

I occasionally add a splash of rice wine vinegar for a little zip in the dark marinade; half-an egg white makes a good addition to the light marinade. Whatever sort of marinade you choose, you'll want to throw it into a bowl along with the meat, then give it all a good stir. Set the bowl aside for about 20 minutes or so to let the flavors penetrate.

sidle on this way folks!

---------------------------> lounge . nourish . host . laze . home.