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What is Stir Fry?

Amy Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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As people are learning to eat healthier foods, they are also learning healthier ways to cook. One way is to stir fry, is a technique that cooks foods quickly, using only a small amount of fat. Anyone with a large skillet and a spatula can master this technique.

Stir fry is an older cooking technique, most often seen in Asian cooking. It has gained popularity over the past 30 years or so, as its advantages of fast, healthy cooking have become apparent. This technique is also easy for the beginning cook to learn.

The first rule of thumb for cooks to remember is to think smaller. Meats and vegetables should be cut into small pieces before cooking. Actually, thinking thumb-size for the chunks is a good way for cooks to remember the ideal size. The technique also emphasizes fresh flavors and textures, so nothing is overcooked.

A cook attempting to stir fry for the first time may want think about getting a seasoning packet especially for this type of dish. These are often mixed with soy sauce and include detailed instructions as well as recipe ideas. They are often found in the Asian foods section of the supermarket. Buying frozen vegetables marked for stir fry is a good idea too, and will help the cook get a good idea of the best size for cutting up the ingredients.

Easily-cooked meats such as chicken breast or stew meat make a good meat foundation for the dish. The cook starts by cooking the meat in a small amount of fat, about 2 teaspoons (about 9.8 ml), over medium-high heat, until it is cooked through. Then, the cook can pour in a small amount of the sauce to deglaze the pan and mix it in with the browned bits from the pan. The vegetables go in next, and the cook stirs them around with the meat as they cook.

Most vegetables will cook in about five to seven minutes, and then the cook can pour in the sauce. Pre-cooked noodles may be added at this time as well, or the cook may want to serve the meal with hot rice. Cold cooked rice can also be stirred in to make a fried rice dish. The variations are endless. A cook can use chicken, beef, pork, tofu, an array of spices and preferred vegetables to make an individualized entree.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Amy Pollick
By Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at DelightedCooking. With experience in various roles and numerous articles under her belt, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers across various platforms on topics of all levels of complexity.
Discussion Comments
By serious — On Jan 09, 2011

Thank you cafe41 for your very helpful suggestions that I will most certainly try.

By GreenWeaver — On Jan 09, 2011

Sneakers41-I went to a Japanese restaurant in Epcot in Orlando Florida which is one of the Disney parks and it was amazing.

The chef did a presentation for our table and actually prepared our shrimp stir fry in front of us. My kids love to watch.

The chef made a mountain of onions and kept layering the onions until he reached a peak and then he sliced it quickly.

He also did tricks with the shrimp and toss some up in the air and had it land in his hat.

I really enjoyed the dipping sauces that went with the chicken, beef, and shrimp. They also had green iced tea which was great. I highly recommend it and was surprised that my children not only like the presentation so much, but they loved the food as well.

By sneakers41 — On Jan 09, 2011

Cafe41-I know that if you want to do a vegan stir fry you can add more vegetables and some tofu chunks and it is really delicious and you really can’t tell that you are eating tofu.

It really makes for an even healthier Japanese stir fry.

By cafe41 — On Jan 09, 2011

Serious- I love chicken stir fry. The stir fry ingredients taste great and have a great combination of salty yet tangy flavor.

I really enjoy the taste of the soy sauce combined with the carrots and water chestnuts. It is really easy to follow a stir fry recipe.

You usually need a wok and a wood spatula, a stir fry mix of vegetables, soy sauce and either chicken or shrimp.

If you are making a chicken stir fry it is best to slightly brown the chicken first and then pour the chopped up chicken along with the stir fry vegetable and a quarter cup of soy sauce to coat the vegetables and the meat along with some oil so that the stir fry ingredients would stick to the pan.

Oriental stir fry is the only vegetable dish that my kids will eat and the nice thing is that it is so easy to prepare.

By serious — On May 01, 2010

Good stuff. Thank you!

Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at DelightedCooking...
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