Healthy Asian Cooking IV : Stir-frying

If you’ve ever found yourself eating from cardboard and plastic containers using flimsy wooden chopsticks, the term ‘healthy Asian cooking’ may sound a little odd at first. However – as with most types of cooking – doing it yourself can make a big, big difference.

This series looks at several basic concepts which will help you put simple, healthy meals on the table whilst keeping the cost down, and the kitchen time to a minimum. It’s very much a win-win-win situation.

Stir-frying can be a great way to prepare quick, healthy meals. With a non-stick wok or pan you’ll need very little oil, and many dishes only take a few minutes to produce. It’s a great mix.

Stir fry. Photo via Tenderstem.

When stir-frying, it’s essential to be well prepared. With such a short cooking time, there’s no opportunity to go searching for an ingredient you’ve forgotten, or to add something which isn’t close by. A few things to consider :

Do the cutting first

Slice as much as possible before you even think about heating up the wok. Remember that the more finely sliced something is, the faster it will cook. Chop any meats up into thin strips or small cubes.

Put everything within reach

Have everything you’ll need close to hand. Spices, vegetables, meats; a little oil to get things started. Once you’re underway, there isn’t time to go for a walk.

Cook things in order

Regardless of how much food you’re cooking, try to keep to the following order. This will help ensure a great result every time :

  1. aromatic seasonings such as , ginger and garlic
  2. meats or seafood
  3. hard vegetables such as carrots
  4. soft vegetables such as spinach
  5. sauce

Basic Stir Fry cooking Technique

The actual cooking technique is fairly straightforward. You really can’t go too far wrong.

Try this :

  • Heat the wok (use the highest temperature setting available) for about 30 seconds. Add a tablespoon or two of oil.
  • Swirl the wok around so that the oil coats the surface fairly evenly.
  • Add any dry seasonings desired – garlic, ginger, green tea. You’ll smell these within a second or two.
  • Add the other ingredients (try to stick to the order mentioned above, if possible) and put the lid on. Swirl the covered wok around a few times to mix everything up.
  • Remove the lid. Most of the water will have evaporated, leaving you ready to begin the fun part – stir-frying.
  • Use a spatula/wooden spoon/chopsticks (anything that won’t burn, and feels comfortable) to toss the food over the surface of the wok. Try to give everything roughly the same time over the heat.

That’s it. Serve and enjoy.


This is the fourth part of a series on Healthy Asian Cooking. You’ll find the other articles at :

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