Stir-fry — easy to make, but also easy to make sooooo average. Want to make the most delicious, flavour-packed stir-fry that won’t leave you longing for your Asian takeaway? I promise it’s easier than you think. You just need to get some basic elements right — and I’m here to help you do just that. Crowd-pleasing recipe included!
Tips and tricks to make an amazing stir-fry
Think of a stir-fry in the same way that you would think about a salad. Fresh, crunchy ingredients win over limp. Make sure you have a variety of colour – we eat with our eyes. You want a variety of texture — crunch and soft. And most importantly, we want banging flavour — think herbs, spices and garnishes.
Most stir-fries go wrong because everything gets overcooked. It was one of the first things I learnt when I did a cooking course in Thailand: South Africans tend to overcook. So prep all your ingredients before you start the cook. Get everything chopped and ready to go and then put that heat on. And only start cooking when the pan (and oil) are already hot.
Also make sure the ingredients are cut or chopped to a similar size, so they all cook evenly.
When in doubt, a squeeze of fresh lime juice is always a good idea.
Pantry staples for success
There are a few items I always have in my pantry cupboard so that when the occasion calls for it, I can whip up a stir-fry in a moment’s notice. Here is my list with some handy links of where to find them. Honestly I do most of my shopping at a small Asian store in my neighbourhood and I encourage you to do the same. You will find the ingredients cheaper than at regular supermarkets. Plus, they will have other Asian ingredients that you may find hard to get anywhere else, like bamboo shoots, makrut lime leaves or galangal.
What you need:
- Good-quality sesame oil
- Thin rice noodles (quicker to prep than actual rice)
- Low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- Rice wine vinegar
And remember, in the same way that seeds and nuts add great texture and flavour to salads, they can do the same for stir-fries. My favourites to keep: cashew nuts, sesame seeds and almonds.
Stir-fry recipe ideas
In a hurry? Try this quick and easy veg stir-fry recipe. Too hot to eat warm food? Want something fresh instead? Try this raw pad Thai recipe — super healthy, crunchy and easy to make. Affordable too!