Stir frying meat and vegetables is one of my favorite last-minute dinner solutions. Sure, I attempt to make weekly meal plans but schedules and the best laid plans fall apart. In a pinch, slicing beef and veggies and serving over a bed of rice — or not — keeps my hungry crowd happy. And beef and veggies are delicious … just look at that bowl of yum, above!
I don’t use a wok but it is the tool of choice for authentic stir frying. According to the Internet (and because I read it on the Internet it has to be true!), stir frying originated during the Han Dynasty. There are no surviving records of course, but archaeologists have found evidence of woks and thinly sliced food in ancient civilization sites. Stir frying became a primary Chinese cooking method during the Ming Dynasty and eventually, the technique made its way to America with Chinese immigrants. It’s fun to mix and match ingredients when stir frying, but I understand if you prefer a plan! Here are a few of my favorite stir fry recipes:
Now stir frying isn’t a particularly challenging cooking method but there is a trick to it. Whether you’re using a wok or a skillet, high heat and movement are keys to success. Here’s a quick tutorial from Chef Michael Ollier. He offers great tips including my favorite bit of advice, “When the beef has a good crust on all sides and the vegetables have surrendered a bit … “
I’m not sure why that strikes me as funny — perhaps because after a long day I, too, feel like waving the white flag … but not on stir fry nights. Stir fry nights are fun, fast and full of flavor. And perhaps best of all, you can enjoy with or without a wok and with or without chopsticks! But you know what I always say …
Wok on, friends! Wok on.