Secrets of skinny stir-frying

Reap the great Asian takeaway flavour at home without the added fat with our easy cooking techniques and sauces.
Stir Fry
Seared meat, crisp, colourful vegetables and strong Asian sauce. But if you buy one from your local Asian restaurant, it's bound to be swimming in oil. Here are some of our scrumptious, healthy stir-fry tips and techniques so you can whip up a tasty dish at home.

The right equipment
Whether you use a wok or your trusty non-stick frying pan is up to you, but bear this in mind: A non-stick pan is only as good as a wok if it's 28cm or larger. Why? The food you're stir-frying needs to come in constant contact with a very hot pan. So you must avoid overcrowding. If your pans are small, consider stir-frying in batches and then quickly reheating the entire meal.

The meat, poultry or tofu
Always cook your meat or chicken first. This way you impart the flavour of the beef, pork or chicken into the pan. Cook tofu first too. Although it won't lend flavour to the pan, it will sear and brown better than if tossed in with raw vegetables.

The vegetables
A key to good stir-frying is careful slicing. All vegetables should be cut into uniform-sized pieces, so that they'll cook in approximately the same amount of time. Smart picks include carrots, zucchini, baby corn, beans, broccoli, snow peas and bok choy. Softer vegetables such as pumpkin and eggplant tend to get mushy, so they will need less cooking time. If you'd rather skip the slicing altogether, check out some of the frozen stir-fry vegetable mixes at your supermarket. You don't even have to bother thawing them.

The heat
Temperature regulation is crucial to expert stir-frying. To assess the temperature of your pan, drizzle a few drops of water into it. If the water just sits there, the pan is not hot enough; if it evaporates right away, it is too hot. If the pan is the right temperature, the water will bounce and dance in the pan.

The oil
A small amount of some oils can impart a tremendous amount of flavour without a lot of kilojoules. Tasty varieties include toasted sesame, roasted peanut and chilli oil.

The technique

  • Once you've got everything sliced and diced and your pan is hot, add a little oil - just a spray is okay if you're using a non-stick pan.

  • Warm the oil and then add chopped garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, no longer as it burns quickly.

  • Quickly add your uncooked meat, poultry or tofu so that the garlic does not burn. Add a dash of soy sauce, season to taste and stir-fry, moving the food constantly, until it's cooked through.

  • Remove the meat or tofu from the pan with a slotted spoon, so that the oil and juices remain in the pan to add flavour to your vegetables.

  • Add the vegetables, again stir-frying with constant movement. You want them crisp-tender but not soft, so cook them for about 3 to 5 minutes.

  • Add your meat, poultry or tofu back to the pan, mix in a few spoonfuls of the sauce and warm through.

Our favourite stir-fry sauces
All sauces serve four people using 500g of meat, chicken or tofu and approximately 4 cups of chopped vegetables. We also suggest stocking your pantry with some of the wonderful bottled sauces available at your supermarket like hoisin, black bean, soy or tamari (gluten-free soy) and oyster.

Sweet & Sour
1/3 cup apricot jam
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and season to taste. ProPoints value of 2 per serve.

Creamy Coconut
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 tbs green or red curry paste
1 tbs fresh chopped coriander
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs lime juice
1 tsp brown sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Add to the stir-fry halfway through cooking the vegetables. Taste to season with salt and pepper. ProPoints value of 1 per serve.

Soy and ginger
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs oyster sauce
2 tsp grated ginger
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp honey

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine. Add some fresh or dried chillies if you like it hot! ProPoints value of 1 per serve.

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