Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stir Frying without recipes

Stir-frying without recipes
© February, 2007
"Easy Style" with Wok Star, Eleanor Hoh, first published in ibeyond magazine, an active lifestyle magazine

People are constantly asking me for stir-fry wok recipes which is like asking for a sandwich recipe. My NO recipes, NO measuring, NO calorie counting technique eliminates many of the obstacles people hate about cooking. I approach wok cooking as a process illustrated in a simple-to-follow visual "stir-fry crib sheet". Once you get this BIG PICTURE, you'll find creating your own wok dishes is as easy as making a sandwich!

Cooking the "Easy Style" way is very liberating because you can combine whatever vegetables you like with your favorite protein (meat, seafood or poultry). With my "squirt, squeeze, dash" dispensing of a few choice seasonings, you'll be able to create hundreds of your own "recipes". Once you start cooking this way, recipes will become a source of inspiration instead of step by step routines. Try some of these dishes when you crave a Stir Fry.

The beauty of stir-frying without recipes is that it allows you to make the best use of fresh, seasonal vegetables or foods that are on special sale. This also means you can use up whatever food are available in your fridge without them going to waste.

While stir-frying is easy, mistakes are common, even among those who have been stir-frying for years.

Here are the three essential elements for a successful stir-fry:

• High Heat -- It's difficult to achieve the temperatures required for a good stir-fry on an electric glass stovetop or coils. A simple solution is to buy a portable butane gas stove. It's cheap, safe, and sits right on top of your electric stovetop (you'll have the best of both heat sources plus it's handy if there's a power outage).

Fresh Ingredients -- Once you start cooking by "smelling, seeing, touching, and tasting", your senses will become heightened. When you develop a taste for fresh, seasonal, flavorful, colorful, crispy, crunchy veggies, you'll no longer settle for frozen, canned, boiled or veggies steamed to death.

• A Good Wok -- I use and recommend a round bottom, cast-iron wok because I find it gives the best flavor and texture, acts like a natural non-stick surface and it's easy to maintain. It's like the old cast-iron skillet our mothers (and grandmothers) used but it's light (about 3 lbs.) and easy to handle (I can lift it with one hand with food in it).

To learn more about my Wok Star cooking kit (with cast-iron wok set and instructional disks, so you can learn and start cooking right away and be a Wok Star). Watch "What's a Wok Star?" video in sidebar.

Wok Stars, share your favorite stir fry riffs?

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