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How to Stir-Fry

By Joy Liao

Stir-frying is one of those cooking methods that sounds relatively easy to master. I mean, how difficult is it to throw a bunch of ingredients in a pan and call it a meal? Of course, if you've ever tried that method, chances are you've had your fair share of tough, dried pieces of meat and soggy over-cooked veggies swimming in a brothy mess. You scratch your head wondering why this resembles nothing remotely close to the stir-fry from your trusty Chinese takeout.

At this point, you might surrender and leave it up to the experts with their big, powerful industrial ranges and iron woks. But do not despair, there is hope. You can still enjoy a delicious stir-fry without dialing up your favorite takeout.

Check out the video below for tips on how to perfect a quick and healthy homemade stir-fry. And the best part? You can do it in less time that it takes to deliver those cartons to your doorstep.

Chicken with Asparagus and Mushroom Stir-Fry
Makes 4-6 servings
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided (about 4 cloves)
1 bunch (4 cups) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch diagonal segments
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (about 3 cups) white button mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Hot rice

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, cornstarch, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and a pinch of salt; let sit for 15 minutes.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add oil in the center of the skillet and swirl to coat the entire surface evenly.

Add half of the minced garlic and stir quickly to avoid burning. Once garlic is lightly browned (about 5 seconds), add the chicken cubes to the skillet. Spread the cubes out evenly in the pan and allow them to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes; turn and cook until no longer pink.

Add the asparagus and the remaining half of the minced garlic and stir-fry for about 1 minute until asparagus are crisp-tender.

Add mushrooms, hoisin sauce and salt to taste and stir-fry for another minute till mushrooms are just cooked. Serve over rice.

Note: To ensure that the mushrooms cook evenly, cut larger mushrooms in quarters and smaller mushrooms in halves.  

While other three-year-old girls played with their Barbie dolls, Joy Liao made herself an imaginary kitchen. She'd pretend to be the butcher at the market, taking a plastic knife to her stuffed animals. (She wasn’t a troubled child, promise!) Having an insatiable appetite for all things delicious, Joy grew up in the kitchen learning about cooking from her mother. After college, she pursued an editorial/media career, and more recently, rediscovered her passion for food in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco. Special Fork bloggers blog Monday through Friday.

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Our bloggers blog Monday through Friday to give you cooking inspiration. Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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