How to Make a Stir-Fry Meal

mushrooms, broccoli and bamboo shoots
  • 01 of 07

    Before You Fire Up the Wok

    If you're planning a dish with a sauce, prepare it ahead of time. If you're using a protein like tofu, you'll want to drain it of any liquid (use the firmest tofu you can find), and may want to consider baking it to further dry it out. Crumbly tofu can become a mushy mess if it's stir-fried too long. 

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  • 02 of 07

    Prepare Stir-Fry Ingredients

    mushrooms, broccoli and bamboo shoots

    Make sure you have all your vegetables and other ingredients chopped and ready to go before you start your stir-fry. This method of cooking is very quick, so you won’t have time to do much other than stir once you start.

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  • 03 of 07

    Heat Stir Fry Pan or Wok

    saute onions

    Preheat your wok or a large frying pan on low heat before adding oil. The heavier the frying pan the better, and if it's non-stick, you'll want to reduce slightly the amount of oil.

    Add oil, making sure the surface of the pan is well-coated. If using garlic, ginger, onions or other whole spices, such as cumin seeds, add them and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

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  • 04 of 07

    Add Your Stir-Fry Ingredients

    Marinated tofu

    Determine which of your stir-fry ingredients need the most cooking time, and add these first. For example, tofu, seitan, tempeh, and carrots need more time to cook than some vegetables like mushrooms and bell peppers. Broccoli and green beans will get too soft if cooked too long. If you're using frozen vegetables, allow a little extra cooking time, and be sure to account for excess liquid as the vegetables melt. 

    Add the remainder of your ingredients, and keep stirring. If you stop stirring, you run the risk of your dish being overcooked or burned.

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  • 05 of 07

    Step Five: Add sauce

    soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and ginger.

    Add sauce or spices and stir until finished cooking. For a basic stir-fry, you'll want about 3 tablespoons of sauce. Most of the liquid will cook off, leaving you with just the flavors. If you'll be serving your stir-fry over rice or other grains, you'll want about 1/3 cup of sauce, and may want to thicken it up with a bit of cornstarch or flour.

    Soy sauce, sesame oil, a bit of vinegar or store-bought stir-fry sauces are easy to add to your stir-fried dish, and most stir-fry recipes will include a suggested mixture of liquid

    If you don't really have a sauce planned, a bit of bottled soy sauce and some diced garlic or ginger will make a nice basic stir-fry sauce. 

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  • 06 of 07

    Add Pre-Cooked Rice or Noodles

    adding noodles to stir fry

    If using a quick-cooking noodle such as bean thread noodles, you don’t have to pre-cook them. Add the uncooked noodles and 1/4 cup water to the pot before vegetables are finished cooking. Cover and reduce heat, allowing noodles to steam cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

    If adding rice, pre-cooked noodles or other whole grains, add them to your stir-fry just long enough to mix the flavors, about three minutes, or just keep your noodles, rice or grains warm while stir-frying, and serve your stir-fried ingredients next to or on top of your grains.

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  • 07 of 07

    Serve and Enjoy

    finished stir fry

    Plate your dish as soon as it's ready; stir-fry is best served when it's piping hot. For an authentic Asian experience, pair your stir-fry meal with a nice Japanese sake.