Last year, I took a trip of a lifetime and toured Thailand. My family and I were there visiting a close friend, so our trip included a mix of the country’s “can’t miss historical spots as well as a deep dive into the exotic culinary flavors that only locals know about.
Since we’ve been back home, we’ve missed our daily dose of stir-fry. With a little bit of trial and error, we have learned to mirror many of the techniques we saw street vendors and chefs use to create fast, affordable and nutritious food. Here are three tips for making stir-fry that instantly transports our taste buds back to Thailand.
There is no such thing as a surface that’s too big when it comes to cooking stir-fry!
While we were in Thailand, we saw chefs cooking on grill tops, skillets, in metal mixing bowls, and, of course, in woks. Woks are made for stir-frying – their steep walls keep food that’s shifting fast, under control. Don’t have a wok? Don’t worry. You really can use whatever skillet you have on hand. Just be sure that it’s big enough that your meat, vegetables and sauce have space to move. If you don’t, you’re likely to end up with a soggy supper since your vegetables will likely wilt without room to move around. If you do use a wok, be sure to season it.
All oils are not created equal. When it comes to making stir-fry, it’s important to start with an oil that is suited for high-heat cooking. Vegetable oil, sunflower oil and canola oil fall into the refined oil category, meaning they are ideal for cooking at high temperatures. When we make stir-fry, one of our favorite go-to oils is sesame oil. It has a high heat tolerance and packs a ton of flavor in just a few tablespoons. Not sure which oils you should be using? Check out this helpful list or read more in-depth descriptions. One thing we’ve tried and loved is making our own infused oils using garlic, basil and even ghost pepper! They are the perfect addition to stir-fry and just about anything else that needs added flavor.
What we loved about stir-fry that we had in Thailand was that it felt like every ingredient was up for grabs. Every meal, including breakfast, included stir-fry. Additionally, in Thai culture, meals are shared. A typical dinner on our trip included four or five entrees, so we had the opportunity to try a lot of flavors! We brought that sense of adventure home with us and have expanded our stir-fry options to include more seafood, leftovers and new sauces and seasonings.
If you have picky eaters, stir-fry is a great way to sneak vegetables into a meal. The right sauce might be able to trick someone into trying (and liking) something new. When it comes to shopping for your stir-fry items, buy the freshest ingredients you can afford. If you’re on a budget, look for what’s on sale and plan your stir-fry seasoning around that. Frozen vegetables can be used in stir-fry, but they won’t be as crisp. If using frozen food, it’s recommended that you use a wide skillet instead of a wok. This will help keep your vegetables from getting soggy from steam.
If you’re interested in discovering great recipes and techniques for perfect rice and delicious sauces, sign up for our upcoming Stir-Fry cooking short course. Register here or call 405.377.3333. To find out about more classes like this sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Cara Adney is the Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator at Meridian Technology Center.