Stir Fry with Hot-and-Sour Sauce

Published March 1, 1996.

Why this recipe works:

To perfect our stir-fry recipe so that the food was browned and caramelized rather than pale and bland, we used a large nonstick skillet, 12 to 14 inches in diameter, rather than a wok, since the flat surface browned food better on a conventional stovetop than did the sloped surface of the… read more

To perfect our stir-fry recipe so that the food was browned and caramelized rather than pale and bland, we used a large nonstick skillet, 12 to 14 inches in diameter, rather than a wok, since the flat surface browned food better on a conventional stovetop than did the sloped surface of the wok. Even with a skillet, we didn’t have enough heat to quickly sear and cook either large amounts or large pieces of food. For that reason, we cut the vegetables in our stir-fry recipe into smaller pieces so they cooked quickly and cooked relatively small amounts of food at one time.

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Serves 4

The secret to good stir-frying is lots of heat, so preheating the pan is crucial. During cooking, there should be lots of smoke, lots of steam, and lots of sizzle. Otherwise, you are braising the food and it will not develop the proper texture or flavor. To give you as much surface area as possible, you should use a large (twelve- to fourteen-inch) nonstick skillet. This recipe can be halved to serve two (if you halve the recipe, the cooking times will decrease) but it cannot be increased, as a home stovetop has insufficient heat to cook greater quantities of vegetables. You can use an equal amound of beef, seafood or tofu, keeping in mind they all need to be cut into small, even-sized pieces. The vegetables are grouped in batches, listed in the approximate order in which they should be added to the pan.

Ingredients

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