This is another method, similar to sautéing, which requires very little time and high heat. However, the main difference is that when stir-frying, the ingredients are all cut into small cubes or strips, and are added to the pan in the order of their needed time. For example, when making a vegetable and chicken stir-fry, the slow cooking vegetables (such as cauliflower and carrots) and chicken will be added first, followed by broccoli, green beans and snow peas, which take a shorter time to cook. The ingredients which cook very fast, such as mushrooms, peas or celery, are added last, along with herbs and spices. This method of cooking ensures that all ingredients are cooked sufficiently and that none are over done, lose flavor or get burnt. Many stir-fry recipes also require fruits, and these can be added as you prefer.
Because this is a very quick cooking method, you must make sure that all the ingredients are cut up and ready to go before you heat the pan. Oil, chicken, vegetables and seasonings are within a close range so they are easy to reach, and they are already measured into the required amounts. The ideal pan for this cooking method is a heavy skillet with high sides, to prevent food falling out during the tossing and mixing. A Chinese wok would be the optimum pan, but it is not essential; any normal deep skillet will do the job.
As already stated, before cooking, make sure that everything is in a close reaching-distance and is already cut up and ready to be tossed into the pan.
To begin, heat the pan before adding the oil; coat the entire surface of the inside of the pan with oil; a good measure for this is to use 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of oil for every pound of raw ingredients you are cooking. Some oils that work well for stir-frying are peanut, vegetable or corn oil.
Once the oil is hot, you can add the chicken and the slow-cooking vegetables stated before. Make sure all of these ingredients are touching the oil and are in the hottest area of the pan. Toss and stir on high heat for a few minutes, until the chicken is just barely done; you will be able to test this by cutting into the middle of a piece of chicken and seeing that it is only slightly pink.
Take the meat out of the wok and set it aside, still keeping it warm. Put the next ingredients of the recipe into the wok, and toss until they are tender. Once they are almost cooked, you can add the sauce called for by the recipe, and heat until it is bubbling.
After all the ingredients have been cooked once, put them all in the pan together on very high heat for a few minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked through. All of the other vegetables should be cooked well, but only until they are crisp and tender. When you are done cooking, the stir-fry should be served promptly; it definitely tastes better hot and fresh!
- Cut all of the ingredients into equal-sized bits; this will make sure that you have no hassle when it comes to making sure that all pieces are cooked evenly. Most supermarkets sell ingredients ready-cut for stir-frying, but keep in mind that these will cost more.
- Place the chicken in the freezer for 45 min – 1 hour to make cutting it into strips easier; if it is already frozen, cut it up just before it thaws.
- Be aware of what your utensils are made of; plastic could possibly melt when exposed to the high heat necessary for stir-frying, so always use wood or metal.
- After cutting and preparing the raw chicken, make sure that you thoroughly clean all surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water and a mild bleach solution; this will prevent bacteria from forming and getting into the other ingredients.
Chinese Chicken Recipes
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