A Beginner's Guide to Superb Stir-Fry: Quick, Healthy Meals from a Wok

This week we've been bringing you a series of lessons and recipes that show you how to stir-fry. Why? Besides the delicious results, stir-frying also offers something that our readers frequently request: Fast, healthy, seasonal meals. Stir-frying in a wok gives you a meal that can express these things beautifully, and it's also a method well-suited to those of you cooking for just one or two people. It can feed more too, though — the wok is a kitchen implement of great practicality and swift, delicious food.

Here's a look back at what we've covered. From scrumptious fried rice to the perfect chicken stir-fry and a lesson on stir-frying any kind of vegetable, everything you need to make superb stir-fried meals is here!

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I have to admit, I never was enamored of the wok. I always saw it as one more big pan to clutter up my small city kitchen cupboards. It even seemed vaguely pretentious; was I really so "authentic" of a cook that I needed this giant pan?

But then I visited Grace Young a few weeks ago and she walked us through the essentials of stir-frying. I was hooked! The results were so incredibly delicious, and for much less work and delicate, painstaking technique than I expected. It was a method that was easy to learn quickly.

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Grace very kindly gifted me with a new carbon steel wok, which we seasoned and prepped for cooking. Two nights ago I was inspired to try out my new skills, and I whipped up the chicken stir-fry we have here for me and my husband. Wow! In 20 minutes I went from no dinner to a delicious, gorgeous plate of chicken and vegetables. It was the perfect meal for an early summer evening, and it required me to stand over the stove for less than 5 minutes.

So, take the word of a (now converted) wok-aholic — this tool and this method of cooking are very much worth knowing, especially if you want to teach yourself to get fast, healthy weeknight dinners on the table.

A few more notes:
• While you can stir-fry some dishes in a deep sauté pan, a carbon steel wok is worth buying. They are very inexpensive ($20 to $25) and versatile.
• Carbon steel woks need to be seasoned, but this isn't hard (we show you how) and it's not difficult to keep them looking good and feeling nonstick.
• These lessons have lots of steps and photos, but don't be intimidated. We wanted to show you every piece of the stir-fry process, but know that this all happens in a matter of minutes! Memorize and learn these recipes by heart, and once you learn them they'll fly by in a flash.

Everything You Need to Make a Superb Stir-Fry

Stir-Fry Basics
Grace Young's Best Stir-Fry Tips

Equipment
How to Buy and Season a New Wok
How to Clean a Carbon Steel Wok

Recipe Lessons
How to Stir-Fry Chicken
How to Stir-Fry Vegetables
How To Make Fried Rice

Thank you again to Grace Young for all the tutorials and recipes!

Do you stir-fry? What's your favorite thing to cook in a wok?

More From Grace Young

Visit Grace's Website
Grace Young.com

Find Grace's Books
Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing

Want to Learn More About Wok Cooking?
Join Wok Wednesdays, a group of enthusiastic cooks working their way through Grace's book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge

(Images: Faith Durand)

More posts in this series

Wok Cooking with Grace Young

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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