Make sure you have all the ingredients you need ahead of time.
Make sure all the food is cut according to directions before you start. Never
try to prepare food while stir-frying.
Cut the ingredients in uniform-sized pieces so that they all cook at the same
If you're not following a recipe, a good rule of thumb is to cut everything into
bite-sized pieces. Cut the vegetables on a diagonal to maximize exposure to the
Heat the wok on medium-high to high heat for at least a minute before adding
oil. (You may want to skip this step if you have a nonstick pan - it can damage
Add the oil (up to 2 to 3 tablespoons depending on the dish; peanut, canola or
other vegetable oils are good) so that it circles around the sides of the wok
before reaching the bottom. This coats the sides of the wok in oil and the oil
Before adding other ingredients, toss in a few pieces of garlic and ginger and
cook for a few minutes. This flavors the oil nicely. (Note: you may want to
reduce the heat at this point to keep the aromatic from burning).
If the recipe calls for meat and vegetables, cook the meat first and set it
aside. Add the meat back when the vegetables are almost cooked. This ensures
that the meat is not overcooked, and that the meat and vegetables retain their
Meat is normally stir-fried on high heat to sear in the juices (individual
recipes may differ).
Never add more than a cup of meat at a time to the wok. Lay the meat out flat.
If necessary, stir-fry in batches.
Remove the meat from the wok when it changes color - for example the redness in
the beef is gone. At this point the meat is approximately 80 percent cooked.
Stir-fry vegetables according to density, with the densest vegetables being
stir-fried first and for the longest time. Denser vegetables such as broccoli,
carrots and eggplant require more cooking time than green leafy vegetables such
as bok choy.
If you're uncertain about the order in which to stir-fry vegetables, the
simplest solution is to stir-fry them separately, one at a time.
If possible, wash the vegetables ahead of time to ensure that they have drained
and are not too wet.
On the other hand, if the vegetables are too dry, try adding a few drops of
water while stir-frying.
To stir-fry, move a spatula through the wok, tossing the ingredients every few
When stir-frying meat, wait a few seconds before tossing so that it has a chance
to brown; when stir-frying vegetables, begin moving them immediately.
When adding sauce or a cornstarch/water mixture, push the ingredients up to the
side of the wok, forming a well in the middle. Add the sauce in the middle and
stir to thicken before mixing with the other ingredients.
Once the dish is completed, taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Serve the stir-fried dish immediately.
Finally, a few words about cooking temperatures. Some recipes give instructions
on whether to cook a dish at high, medium-high, or medium heat, but others
don't. Ultimately, it's best to trust your own judgment: every stove is
different, and you may need to do a bit of experimenting to find the right
temperature for stir-frying.