Nothing beats a stir-fry for a quick, healthy and family-friendly midweek meal — but have you got your technique down? Avoid these common mistakes to make sure you’ve got the perfect dinner bowl, every time.
1. Being unprepared
Because stir-frying is such a quick cooking method, we can’t stress enough how important it is to get everything prepped before you start cooking. Chop all of your meat and veg, grate your ginger and crush your garlic — it makes life much easier when you can simply throw ingredients into the wok.
2. Chopping too big
Set yourself up for quick cooking by chopping meat and vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces so that they cook evenly.
3. Wrong type of pan
Non-stick pans, particularly ones coated with Teflon, shouldn’t be used over the high temperatures necessary for stir-frying. A wok is best, as it can handle a lot more volume than a pan. If you don’t own a wok, use the largest stainless steel pan you have, choosing width over depth.
4. Wrong type of oil
As stir-frying is done over a high temperature, it’s crucial to choose an oil that can take the heat: try coconut, rapeseed, peanut, vegetable or avocado oil. If you want to include some sesame oil for flavour purposes, it’s best to drizzle it over the dish once it’s cooked.
5. Too low a heat
Stir-frying should be done over a high heat and the food in the pan should be sizzling at all times. Keep ingredients moving constantly by stirring with a wooden spoon and shaking the pan. As soon as the food is cooked, remove it from the wok and move onto the next item; each food should take less than a minute if the pan is hot enough.
6. Too wet
Keep your stir-fry dry until everything is cooked in order to avoid steaming your food. Dry vegetables thoroughly after washing them, and don’t add your sauce until the very end, giving it just enough time to heat through.
Likewise, adding too much food to the wok at one time will mean your food is steamed, rather than stir-fried. Brown your meat first, then set aside while you cook your vegetables — if you have plenty of veg, you may also want to consider doing this in batches. Add the meat back in at the end when adding the sauce.