Aaah, the classic stir fry. How many times have I failed thee.
It seriously took my father years before he worked out the secret to making a good stir fry. For a while, every dish he made would either have overcooked beef which was tough and chewy, or undercooked vegies which were dull in flavour and colour.
And then one night, sometime during his late 30's, it suddenly occurred to him that there was a vital step to this whole stir-fry bizzo which we didn't know about.
The idea works the same way as parboiling your potatoes before you bake them. Except you parsteam your vegies before you throw it into your stirfry so you don't end up with undercooked vegies. This is homecooking we're talking about, so don't start telling me about how they do it differently in the restaurants. Most homes simply don't have enough flame to heat the wok hot enough to cook the vegies through before the meat simply dries up and dies.
And yes, I equate badly cooked meat with killing the animal a second time round. Please, please don't do it. The animal deserves a dignified path to the next part of its life.
Another key to good stirfrying is knowing the order to cook everything in. Because of the speed of everything, once you throw your first piece in, you really don't have much time to think about what should go in first or what not. It has to be done right, straight away.
So how does it all work?
Things which will withstand a fair bit of cooking - try and get these in the pan first:
- Dried and reconstituted mushrooms. (These buggers don't seem to die in the pan and will retain its shape even after HOURS of cooking.)
- Firm tofu, tofu sponges, deep fried tofu (soft tofu will retain its shape, but it will release a LOT of liquid during the cooking process, and even after the cooking has been done - so try not to use them for stirfrying purposes)
- Black fungus
- Dried shrimp
- Chicken (unless you're really really slow at getting the ingredients in the pan)
- Un-bicarbed meat (if you don't use bicarb during the marinating process, make sure you give the meat a quick fry until its NEARLY cooked, take it out of the wok, and rest aside until all the other ingredients are cooked, then just throw everything together in the wok.)
- Vegetables (as I said before, steam, then throw into wok at the end.)
Classic Pork Stirfry Cheat guide
Serves: the family
1 tblsp Mushroom Dark Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/8 tsp MSG (optional)
1/2 tsp Bicarb Soda (optional)
1 tblsp Oil
Oyster sauce, to taste
2 Small Sticks of Choy (any type will work)
250g Pork Fillet, sliced thinly
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1/2 chopped onion
5 Shittake Mushrooms, reconstituted and chopped in half
a handful of Black Fungus
Oil to cook
- Combine pork fillet, bicarb soda, tablespoon oil, MSG, sugar and mushroom dark soy together, making sure every piece of the pork is nicely coated
- Leave aside for 5-20mins
- Steam choy for 3mins, or until choy is brightly coloured
- Remove from steamer and set aside
- In a wok, heat oil until almost smoking, add black fungus and shittake mushroom and stirfry for about 2 minutes. (Please be careful, this stage the wok will spatter out a lot of oil.)
- Add onions and garlic and toss around for another minute or two.
- Throw in marinated pork and add roughly 2~3 tablespoons of oyster sauce (or to taste)
- Stir fry for about 3minutes, or until pork is cooked
- Throw in steam choy and turn off heat. Toss everything around so the vegetables are nicely coated in the sauce, and serve straight away. If you leave it in the wok the vegetables will keep cooking and turn yellow.