Recipes to Try: Healthy 30-Minute Stir-Fry Recipes
Forget Chinese takeout: homemade stir-fries can be whipped up in about 30 minutes, with healthy ingredients and minimal mess. As cookbook author and wok evangelist Grace Young wrote in the current issue of EatingWell Magazine, by focusing on fresh veggies and a few staple spices and sauces, stir-fries are a simple way to pack your meal with bright, zingy flavors and essential nutrients. You can make them from whatever’s in your kitchen, too: onions, frozen peas and chicken breasts? Sounds great! Celery, cherry tomatoes and green peppers? Delish! The combinations are literally endless.
Here are a few simple tips to help make your stir-fry as speedy as it can be:
1. Use fresh veggies: Sure, frozen peas and carrots are stir-fry standbys, but beyond that, most dinners will benefit from the crisp textures and bright colors of fresh veggies. Don’t be afraid to experiment: while traditional Asian stir-fries focus on ingredients like bok choy and scallions, you can also make a great meal using Brussels sprouts, parsnips and tomatoes.
2. Be prepared: Once the oil is sizzling in
your pan, it’s too late to worry about chopping veggies or slicing
chicken breasts. You know how the hosts of cooking shows have all
their ingredients in cute little ramekins? Copy that. Your
ingredients don’t have to be in perfect glass bowls (I tend to just
pile stuff on different corners of my cutting board), but by
getting every element of the stir-fry ready ahead of time, you’ll
make it easier to put it together. I don’t mean to make up
statistics on you, but at least 95% of burned stir-fries occur
because someone is trying to slice carrots while the onions are
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3. Get a wok: Yeah, I know, they cost money.
But they’re actually pretty cheap, and, for someone who cooks
stir-fries all the time, they’re indispensable. While a nonstick
skillet can be made to do the job of stir-frying, a 14-inch
flat-bottomed carbon-steel wok with a long wood handle can work
wonders a skillet never dreamed of. Carbon steel conducts heat
incredibly efficiently, and a flat-bottom wok makes more contact
with the burner than a conventional one. Plus, while nonstick
skillets (and woks) are unsafe at high heats, a carbon steel model
can handle the intensity like a pro. Add to that the fact that a
well-seasoned wok is naturally nonstick and you’ve got a recipe for
using less oil. That means naturally healthier cooking! Not sold
yet? Here’s one more perk: like cast iron, carbon steel actually
transmits extra iron into your food. You get extra nutrients
cooking this way!
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4. Don’t crowd the pan: Remember that most of the magic of a stir-fry comes from the direct contact between your ingredients and the hot metal of your cook pan. Put more than 12 ounces of meat in a stir-fry and it’ll start to pile up, touching other ingredients rather than the pan. That means some pieces will steam rather than sear. And, trust me, no one ever asks for steamed beef.
What's your favorite stir-fry combination?
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