Everything You Need to Start Stir Frying
Many people get nervous when they first see a stir fry recipe, but stir frying is actually quite easy. It is one of the main methods used in Chinese cooking, created so that meals could be cooked simply and quickly. Stir frying is defined as a cooking method where one cooks small pieces of food by stirring them constantly over high heat. As in all methods of cooking, before you begin, you need to gather all of the necessary utensils and ingredients. Here are the basic items that you need to begin stir frying.
- Wok - Chinese chefs prefer to use a cast iron, round bottom wok. Cast iron evenly distributes heat throughout the wok and the round bottom makes it easy to move and toss food. However, round bottom woks require a wok ring to set the bottom on and can only be used with gas ranges not electric. I prefer to use a non-stick, carbon steel wok. For me the non stick coating makes stir frying much easier! If you do not have a wok, a simple deep non-stick pot can be used. Make sure the wok or pot has a lid, which is often used for simmering.
- Spatula- A metal spatula is used to toss the food while it is cooking. I use a Teflon spatula since my wok has a non-stick coating.
- Chopsticks - Chopsticks are used to break up pieces of meat, drop in or flip individual pieces of food, and stir in eggs. If you don’t have chopsticks, a fork will work just fine.
- Cleaver- Most Chinese cooks have a good sharp cleaver, but a simple stainless steel knife with a sharp blade will work just as well.
- Oil - Since stir frying means to cook food quickly over high heat, it requires oil that won’t burn when it is heated to high temperatures. This means we need and oil with a high smoking point. See the article entitled Oils used in Stir Frying to learn which are used best for stir frying.
- Vegetables and/or Fruit - Almost every stir fry includes some type of fruit or vegetable. See the article entitled Selecting and Preparing Stir Fry Vegetables to learn about those that are commonly used in stir frying.
- Meats - Most stir fries, except for vegetarian versions include some type of meat. The article entitled Selecting and Preparing Meats for Stir Fries describes which types and cuts of meat are best to use and how to prepare them.
- Sauces and Seasonings - There are so many different sauces and seasonings used in Chinese cooking today. The article entitled Stir Fry Sauces and Seasonings lists the most common sauces and seasonings used in stir frying.
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