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Stir-fry in batches. Properly stir-fried food retains its crisp, firm exterior and tender, juicy inside by cooking small portions at a time. Heat wok, drizzle in enough oil to coat surface, and add enough small cuts of beef, pork or chicken to just cover bottom. Fry on medium-high heat, tossing entire time. When your first batch of meat is thoroughly cooked, remove from wok and drain on paper towels. Fry second batch in a little more oil, and then set aside. Oil pan once more, toss in a few cloves of crushed garlic and/or ginger, and stir-fry vegetables, adding thicker ingredients like potatoes and carrots first, and then tossing in quicker-cooking ingredients like scallions and mushrooms at end. When vegetables are done, return meat to pot with vegetables, and finish with your liquid sauces and seasonings. Give everything a quick toss, simmer for a few minutes and then remove from heat.
Learn flavors. Thai cooking is immensely popular right now; similar to Chinese, but with its own exotic spices and flavorings, some of which take their cue from Indian cuisine. Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean fare all boast their signature recipes as well. With practice, you'll learn which spices and sauces go with what and how to identify their flavors. You can buy most of what you need at an Asian specialty store.
Always have some Asian cooking staples on hand: soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce. Fresh ginger, garlic, chillies, galangal, Asian shallots, scallions, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro and lemongrass. Green or red curry paste, shrimp paste. Noodles and rice. And of course... plenty of fresh meat, fish, tofu and vegetables. Pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, prawns, scallops. Onions, carrots, broccoli, snow peas, bok choi (Chinese cabbage), mushrooms (regular, oyster mushrooms, shitake mushrooms).
There really is no limit to what you can do with a wok, an assortment of meats, vegetables, spices and sauces. If you're creative chef, feel free to experiment. If you're a "by book" cook, go out and purchase a stir-fry cookbook which will explain each technique in detail as well as familiarize you with exotic ingredients. Above all: know that stir-frying is a healthy way to prepare and enjoy foods you love in comfort of home.
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto.
Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.