Every vegan should know how to cook a first-class stir-fry. But not all of us do since there are some challenging techniques involved.
Let me share a few important secrets to making a perfect stir-fry. Once you know them, you’ll want to make stir-frys more often.
Stir-frys are a quick and flexible meal to make after a busy day at work. Served with your favorite whole grain that you’ve prepared in advance, this meal can be on the table in less than 15 minutes.
Most groceries now have fresh vegetables already cut and ready to use. This makes stir-frying easier than ever.
The Secrets to Making a Perfect Stir-Fry
1. Prep the Ingredients
Choose a wide variety of colorful, nutritious vegetables for your stir-fry. Cut the veggies into bite-size pieces so they cook quickly.
2. Use the Right Pan
Use a well-seasoned wok or large non-stick skillet. The pan should be wide and have a lot of surface area for the ingredients to make contact with the heat.
3. Don’t Crowd the Pan
You want the veggies to cook quickly and uniformly, so don’t add too many to the pan. Cook only a couple servings of ingredients at a time.
4. Use High Heat
To get crisp, caramelized vegetables, pre-heat your pan and cook on the highest heat you have. A gas burner is best for stir-frys since the flame is in contact with your pan. If you use a wok on an electric stovetop, it will not get hot enough. One solution is to remove the ring that the wok usually sits on, and put the wok directly on the burner. You’ll have to stabilize it by the handle. Better yet, use a flat, nonstick pan that will be in contact with the burner.
5. Use Oil that Can Handle High Heat
Canola and other vegetable oils are best because they can be heated to a high temperature. Don’t cook with olive oil, nut oils, or sesame oil since they will burn and smoke in high heat.
6. Stir Frequently and Avoid Over-Cooking
Keep the veggies moving in the pan so they cook evenly and quickly. Remember to avoid over-cooking—the veggies should still be bright and crisp. Cooking time will be just a few minutes.
7. Use a Delicious Sauce
When your ingredients are finished cooking, turn off the heat and drizzle on a delicious sauce. Don’t drown your veggies in sauce—just a little will do. The best stir-fry sauces have a combination of flavors, like salty, sweet, acidic, and spicy. Click here to see our ginger garlic stir-fry sauce.
8. Use Interesting Toppings
Top your stir-fry with peanuts and sliced green onions, or experiment with different nuts or seeds that add a crunchy texture. Pickled ginger served on the side is also nice addition.
9. Serve with a Whole Grain
Brown rice is often served with a stir-fry, but experiment with other whole grains. Quinoa, millet, and barley are excellent too. See our guide to whole grains here.
The Perfect Stir-Fry
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- Protein option: 1/2 pound firm tofu, tempeh, wheat gluten, or 1/2 can beans (drained)
- 1/2 pound mixed vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups)
- Topping options: Nuts (peanuts or cashews) and sliced green onions
- Stir-fry sauce (click here to see our ginger garlic stir-fry sauce)
- Use a large non-stick pan or wok, and preheat on high heat for 2 minutes. Add oil.
- Add veggies and protein to the pan, and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
- Turn off heat, drizzle on sauce, and transfer onto plates.
- Top with nuts and green onions.