Stir-frying cooks small pieces of vegetables and meat quickly at medium-high heat in a small amount of oil. Constant stirring is a must because the foods cook so rapidly. The mixture is then tossed with a savory sauce right in the skillet or wok.
The result is a low-fat, full-flavored main or side dish. The moist meat adds little fat since stir-fry recipes usually call for lean cuts. And because vegetables are cooked to crisp-tender, they retain more of their vitamins and minerals.
Stir-frying relies on high cooking temperatures, so it's important to choose an oil with a high smoke point (the temperature at which heated fat starts to smoke and emit odors). Canola and peanut oil are healthy choices that meet this requirement.
Ready to get things sizzling? Follow these suggestions for serving your family a surefire stir-fry.
- Before you start cooking, combine sauce ingredients and chop and measure meat, vegetables, etc.
- Meat that is partially frozen can be sliced more easily for quick, even cooking.
- Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet or wok until it shimmers and gives off a waft or two of steam. If the oil gives off a darker smoke, it is too hot and will lend an off-flavor to your stir-fry.
- To assure even cooking time, cut vegetables in uniform sizes. Add firmer vegetables to the pan first.
"Peppery Beef Stir-Fry (shown above) is a great dish for guests because you can easily do the prep work in advance. Everyone asks me for the recipe," writes Karla Hanson of Monona, Iowa.
Stir-Fried Asparagus, with crisp-tender asparagus and crunchy water chestnuts, can be served as a meatless entree or side. Rochelle Higgins of Woodbridge, Virginia shared the recipe.