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

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

Faith Durand
May 30, 2012

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!

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.

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

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)

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