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February 18, 2009

Deftness of Hand: The Secret to Stir Fry


Here is the secret of stir fry – when it comes down to actually cooking it, you will want the process to go so quickly that time itself appears to reverse.


Wow, that is fast.


It is fast enough to say from the outset that more of your time will be spent assembling ingredients than cooking. This places a premium on organization, and deftness with the hand.


Here is the second secret of the stir fry – it will take you longer to assemble a stir fry sauce than it will to actually make the stir fry. This means the real cooking takes place before the actual cooking.


In a small skillet, assemble the sauce by mixing together sesame oil, a little chili oil, grated fresh ginger, minced garlic, lemon zest, salt, cornstarch and water. Whisk together until thickened, and then allow to cook for a minute or so longer. Make sure you stir occasionally to prevent burning to the bottom of the pan. Set aside.


Now assemble your ingredients. Let us start by cutting up a filet of fish that doesn’t easily flake. Orange roughy is a fish that holds up well under short, intense heat. The fish will be lonely, so give it uncooked shrimp as company. Fish and shrimp do not always socialize well in the ocean. In fact, fish have a nasty habit of making a meal of shrimp. In the kitchen, however, fish develop a keen empathy and the two get along, well, swimmingly.


These vegetables will go well with shrimp and fish – green pepper, red onion, mini corns and slices of zucchini and summer squash. Cut them up, and put them in a bowl.


Crack your knuckles and pour into a wok a couple of tablespoons of canola or peanut oil. The idea is to get an oil that can tolerate high heat without smoking. You will push the limits of the oil.


Heat the oil. Grab something, and feel the rush as you push the limits of the oil’s tolerance for heat. If the tension becomes too great, let out a scream that builds to a peak right as the oil maxes out. Throw in the fish and shrimp and cook quickly for a few minutes until the shrimp has changed color from grey to pink and the fish is cooked through. Remove and set aside.


Toss in the vegetables and the sauce. Be careful here. You will want just enough sauce to coat the vegetables, but not so much that it dominates. It should accentuate, not overwhelm.


Your hands should move so quickly that people peeking in your window should see nothing but a blur. Constantly toss the vegetables and move up on the sides, allowing the sauce to create a small pool in the center of the wok.


Do this for just a few minutes. Again, the point is not to make your vegetables limp and soggy, but to where they lose their firmness. When your vegetables reach this point, add the cooked fish and shrimp and toss in the sauce. Lay over rice.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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