What is a Stir-Fry?
A stir-fry is a simple dish of meat or vegetables (often both) that is quickly cooked in a wok over a high heat. At home, this cooking method does not include any frenzied flipping technique or pyrotechnics, regardless of what you may often observe in restaurants or on the television. In fact, good homemade stir-fries are not stirred constantly. They’re carried out methodically and calmly by letting the food cook on the bottom and sides of a well-heated wok, then turning it over to help help finish the cooking.
How to Make a Chicken and Cashew Stir-Fry (Serves Four)
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/4-inch-thick bite-sized slices
• 1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed
• 1 cup cubed red bell pepper
• 1/2 cup whole roasted cashews
• 2 tablespoons minced ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup chicken broth
• 2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons grapeseed, canola, or peanut or vegetable oil
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 14-inch flat-bottomed carbon steel wok, or 12-inch stainless steel sauté pan
• Wok spatula, fish spatula, or another spatula with a thin metal blade
1. Prepare the ingredients: It’s very important that all the ingredients are cut as directed in the ingredient list above and are ready to go before you put the wok on the stove. The most important part of making a good stir-fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size. Cut the veggies and set them aside in a bowl. Cut the aromatics as directed above and set them aside as well.
2. Marinate the chicken: Add the chicken, garlic, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice wine or dry sherry, and ½ a teaspoon of salt to a medium bowl. Stir so that the chicken is coated evenly and you can no longer see any dry cornstarch. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the chicken and stir to combine. This extra oil will prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan and burning.
3. Make the stir fry sauce: In a small bowl, whisk ¼ cup of chicken broth, 2 tablespoons of rice wine or dry sherry, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.
4. Prepare your wok space: Set the bowls of chicken, vegetables and cashews, aromatics, and sauce near your stove. Also, place a small bowl of water next to the stove.
5. Heat the wok: Turn on the stove burner as high as it can go and set the wok on top. To determine whether the wok is hot enough, flick some droplets of water into the pan. As soon as a bead of water evaporates within 1-2 seconds of contact, the wok is ready for stir-frying.
6. Pull the wok off the heat and swirl in the oil: Take the wok off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Pick up the pan and carefully swirl it around so that the oil coats the bottom and sides (If the oil starts to smoke wildly on contact with the wok, the wok is too hot. Place the wok aside for a few minutes so that it cools down. When it has cooled, remove the oil with some paper towels, wash the wok, and start again.)
7. Add the aromatics to the wok: Place the wok back on the heat. Add the ginger and red pepper flakes, and stir for 10 seconds or until fragrant.
8. Add the chicken to the wok: Push the ginger mixture up the sides of the wok. Carefully add the chicken and spread evenly in the wok.
9. Let the chicken sear for 1 minute: Start your time so that you can pace your cooking. Cook the chicken for one minute, letting it sear.
10. Stir-fry the chicken for 1 minute: Stir-fry the chicken for a further minute, stir constantly and mix with the aromatics. Continue to do this until the chicken is lightly browned, but not cooked through entirely.
11. Add the vegetables: Swirl the remaining tablespoon of oil down the side of the wok. Add the sugar snap peas, bell pepper, and cashews.
12. Stir-fry for 1 minute: Sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt over the top. Stir-fry for one minute, or until the snap peas have turned bright green.
13. Add the sauce and stir-fry for 1 minute: Pour the sauce mixture around and down the sides of the wok. Stir-fry for a further minute, or until the chicken is cooked through.
14. Serve immediately: Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately, while hot.