Stir-frying without recipes
© February, 2007
“Easy Style” with Wok Star, Eleanor Hoh, first published in ibeyond magazine, an active lifestyle magazine
People are constantly asking me for stir-fry wok recipes which is like asking for a sandwich recipe. My NO recipes, NO measuring, NO calorie counting technique eliminates many of the obstacles people hate about cooking. I approach wok cooking as a process illustrated in a simple-to-follow visual “stir-fry crib sheet”. Once you get this BIG PICTURE, you’ll find creating your own wok dishes is as easy as making a sandwich!
Cooking the “Easy Style” way is very liberating because you can combine whatever vegetables you like with your favorite protein (meat, seafood or poultry). With my “squirt, squeeze, dash” dispensing of a few choice seasonings, you’ll be able to create hundreds of your own “recipes”. Once you start cooking this way, recipes will become a source of inspiration instead of step by step routines. Try some of these dishes when you crave a Stir Fry.
The beauty of stir-frying without recipes is that it allows you to make the best use of fresh, seasonal vegetables or foods that are on special sale. This also means you can use up whatever food are available in your fridge without them going to waste.
While stir-frying is easy, mistakes are common, even among those who have been stir-frying for years.
Here are the three essential elements for a successful stir-fry:
• High Heat — It’s difficult to achieve the temperatures required for a good stir-fry on an electric glass stovetop or coils. A simple solution is to buy a portable butane gas stove. It’s cheap, safe, and sits right on top of your electric stovetop (you’ll have the best of both heat sources plus it’s handy if there’s a power outage).
• Fresh Ingredients — Once you start cooking by “smelling, seeing, touching, and tasting”, your senses will become heightened. When you develop a taste for fresh, seasonal, flavorful, colorful, crispy, crunchy veggies, you’ll no longer settle for frozen, canned, boiled or veggies steamed to death.
• A Good Wok — I use and recommend a round bottom, cast-iron wok because I find it gives the best flavor and texture, acts like a natural non-stick surface and it’s easy to maintain. It’s like the old cast-iron skillet our mothers (and grandmothers) used but it’s light (about 3 lbs.) and easy to handle (I can lift it with one hand with food in it).
To learn more about my Wok Star cooking kit (with cast-iron wok set and instructional disks, so you can learn and start cooking right away and be a Wok Star). Watch “What’s a Wok Star?” video in sidebar.
Wok Stars, share your favorite stir fry riffs?
Forces have aligned to make this an auspicious year for accomplishing resolutions! Here’s greeting the Year of the Ox with Kung Hei Fat Choy, which means good luck, prosperity and longevity. The Year of the Ox, begins Monday, January 26, 2009 and signifies a time to sweep away old habits and start anew. What better way than to jumpstart the process with a healthy, easy and delicious Pineapple Fried Rice using my simple stir fry technique.
Some of my fondest childhood memories of growing up in Hong Kong include the rituals, ceremonies and foods during Chinese New Year’s two week celebrations. Many traditional dishes are served because they symbolize good luck like uncut noodles represent long life, dumplings represent good luck packaged inside, and fried rice signifies prosperity. In Asia, fried rice is either an elegant banquet dish or a homestyle staple which uses leftovers. Fried rice is an all-time favorite Chinese dish in America and the most requested dish I get asked in my Wok Star Cooking Class. Even picky eaters and kids love it because it’s a one-dish wok meal combining tasty flavors, different textures and rainbow colors.
I realize it takes more than willpower to fulfill resolutions so to help make it happen, I’ve also got a video for Pineapple Fried Rice (a joint video project with Del Monte Fresh). In this video, you’ll discover the simple secrets to achieving perfect fried rice. The most common complaints I hear are, “sticky” rice and “soupy” veggies, so it’s important to use the right wok and technique to guarantee success. And that’s why I put together a Wok Star Kit to demystify the art of stir frying with all the essentials to help you succeed.
Here’s the recipe but remember…
Create your own variations by substituting ingredients. That’s what being a Wok Star is all about!
What you’ll need
3/4 lb ham, cubed
4 cups day old, white rice, break up lumps
1 cup pineapple, cubed, save juice for sauce
1 red bell pepper, cubed
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 scallions, thin rounds
3 eggs with dash of San-J tamari
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 slices fresh ginger, diced
2 1/2 tbsp. canola oil for frying
2-3 tbsp. San-J tamari
2 tsp. medium drinking sherry
dash of white pepper
Juice from pineapple
Gather all prepped ingredients (including eggs and sauce) around wok. Here’s order for stir frying :
First, fry vegetables…Heat wok till you see a wisp of smoke (for cast iron woks only.) Add 1 tbsp. of oil, then add half of the diced garlic and ginger. Add vegetables and pineapple, stir fry quickly. Add scallions at the very end so they don’t overcook. Remove ingredients and put them on a serving platter.
Next, fry eggs…Heat wok till hot, add 1/2 tbsp. oil, add the eggs and scramble, keeping the eggs soft (use low heat so they don’t overcook). Set aside with veggies. If wok has eggs stuck to it, wash out and dry.
Then fry rice and ham…Heat wok till hot, add 1 tbsp. oil, add garlic and ginger, then add rice and ham. Warm thoroughly. Add vegetables, then sauce, and combine thoroughly by stir frying. Last, add eggs and break up as you mix but don’t overcook them. They should remain soft and fluffy.
Pineapple is what makes this Fried Rice so special and sweet. Enjoy!…
This new year, instead of being a spectator watching chefs cook on television or being a passive diner, my mantra is ANYONE can be a Wok Star and make healthy, tasty, sizzling, wok creations right in your own home! Wok Stars agree my Kit is the solution to achieving their resolutions for longevity, prosperity and good luck.
You can find out more about Year of the Ox, predictions and horoscopes, celebrities and compatibility.
For a lot more about Chinese New Year traditions on what to eat, wear and how to decorate your home.
You can also subscribe in right sidebar to my FREE newsletter focusing on meal ideas, resources, tips and techniques and where to eat good Asian food and beyond.
Kung Hei Fat Choy!