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03.28.2005

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stir-fry crazy how to stir-fry
by Yee-Fan Sun
| 1 2 3 4
continued from page 1

While the meat is soaking up the marinade, get to work on your veggies. Pretty much all stir-fries should start with a base of flavoring consisting of garlic, ginger, scallions, or some combination thereof. For the scallions, just trim away the dried-off tips and start chopping. You can use both the green and the white parts of the scallion, so chop it all up and discard just the root. For the garlic and ginger, start prepping by peeling them first (a veggie peeler or paring knife work best for the ginger). You can now either slice or mince them. I prefer the latter, to avoid the possibility of accidentally ingesting an entire slab of pungent garlic or ginger, but many Chinese cooks, including my mom, seem to favor slicing.

Cut all your remaining veggies into small, bite-size pieces. I usually try to match the size and shape approximately to how I've cut the meat. If I've cubed the meat, I'll likewise cut the veggies into chunks; if the meat is in thin slices, I'll cut the veggies into strips or wedges. Whatever shape you choose, try to keep the sizes relatively uniform, to ensure that your veggies will cook at about the same rate.

Bear in mind that some veggies are more inherently stir-fry friendly than others. Because you'll be cooking very quickly over a high heat, veggies tend not to get cooked all the way through, the way that they usually are in western cuisines. This works great for veggies that taste good in a semi-raw state -- snow peas, sugar snap peas and bell peppers, for instance, are all yummiest in a lightly cooked state that brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables without losing their lovely crisp texture. But for veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, you might find that you like them just a hair more cooked than straight stir-frying will allow. In this case, you can give them a little head start on the cooking front by tossing them in boiling water first. Undercook them slightly, and they're ready to be tossed into the stir-fry and finished off.

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