Just try the stir fry!

LIVING IN THE KITCHEN

If you are addicted to deep fried food,  then try the stir fry. Because it is healthier, lighter and tastier. Stir-frying may appear to be simple, but it is a skill which needs to be learnt, practised and perfected.

Unlike the roadside vendor or your friendly neighbourhood Chinese restaurant, you don’t really have to use a lot of oil. And even for oil you have a healthy choice — olive oil. Stir-frying is a technique for cooking meat and vegetables quickly, so that they retain texture and flavour.

Stir-frying typically involves a quick saute over high heat, occasionally followed by a brief steam in a flavoured sauce. It is simple, fast and nutritious and needs simple equipment like chef’s knives, cutting board, wok (or kadai) and wooden spatula.

The wok is ideal for stir frying because the wok’s depth and sloping sides enable you to move ingredients away from the hot bottom to the sides. But if you are a skilled cook, a pan or even a kadai will do.

Prepare everything you need before you begin to stir-fry. Cut all your vegetables and meats and prepare your sauce. Stir-frying is fast and you won't really have time to chop the broccoli while the onion is cooking.

Make sure that your vegetables and meats are all cut approximately the same size — bite size, as a matter of fact. Stir-frying uses high heat, so pieces must be small enough to cook through without burning.

Learn the different cooking times of meats and vegetables. You'll need to stagger additions to the stir-fry according to how long they take to cook. For example, you should add onions first, and stir-fry for about two minutes, then add broccoli florets and stir-fry for three to four minutes, then add red bell pepper and stir-fry for two more minutes.

If you have a full wok, stir-fry the meat completely first, then add it back in at the end. This works well for a large assemblage of ingredients, because you ensure the meat cooks fully but not too much.

Heat the pan first, and then add oil. When the oil is hot, add ingredient such as ginger and garlic, and stir-fry for a few seconds, or until you smell them. Start adding your other ingredients, according to their approximate cooking requirements.

When the food is about two-thirds done, add your sauce. If the food will take more than a few minutes more to cook, cover and steam until done. If it will take less time, continue to stir-fry.

Practice the basic technique of lifting under the food in the wok with a spatula or other flat utensil and moving it to the side. Try this two simple veg and non-veg recipes.

Stir-fry vegetables (1 serving)
Ingredients: 100 gms mixed vegetables (such as cabbage, capsicum, spring beans, baby corn, broccoli, cauliflower), 1 or 2 small onions cut long, 1 tomato cut long, 1/2 tsp pepper powder (chilli powder optional), salt to taste, 2 tsp olive oil.

Method: Take a kadai (or wok) and spread the oil. Fry onions lightly, add vegetable one after another, sprinkle pepper powder and salt. Add tomatoes. Fry till done. Sprinkle hot water if you find it too dry while frying. Garnish with coriander, lemon and onion rings.

Stir-fry chicken (2 servings)
Ingredients: 1/4 kg chicken boneless. Cut into small pieces, 2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 2 small onions long cut, 1 capsicum long cut, salt to taste.

Method: Spread oil in the wok. Fry onions lightly. Add chicken. Sprinkle pepper powder, salt. Fry 1 to 2 minutes. Add capsicum and mix. Fry till done.

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