For many years after college, I avoided any recipe that mentioned ‘stir fry’. The name conjured up images of bulk frozen chicken breasts and soggy green peppers doused in soy sauce and bottled garlic. Along with canned Taco Bell refried beans and wilted tortillas, this ‘stir fry’ recipe sustained me through some bleak culinary years in my early 20s.
I rediscovered stir fry when backpacking through rural China with Carolyn in 2001. With limited Mandarin (to say the least) at our disposal, we opted to eat at open food markets where we could point as opposed to verbally order our meals. Upon approaching a stir fry table, we would find countless bowls of fresh seafood, meats, tofu and a myriad of vegetables and spicy peppers. With a few simple hand gestures, we would soon see our picks tossed together in a giant wok and less than two minutes later poured into our outstretched bowls.
The key here is the ‘two minutes.’ Woks should be burning hot and cook the ingredients instantly. Make sure to have all the ingredients chopped and laid out on your “ample” NYC counter space ahead of time.
There are many great stir fry recipes and if you have the time to poke through the Asian markets, there are more authentic recipes to explore. However, this is my favorite standard that can usually be made with the ingredients in my cabinets. I have used pork, shrimp, chicken and beef and it’s always good. Double the ginger, garlic and pepper flakes.