The Best Stir Fry Recipe
If you have read the About page, you’ll know that when I met Mr. Alexander and married him at the ripe old age of twenty, I didn’t know how to cook.
So you can imagine how impressed I was when he made chicken fettuccine alfredo over spinach noodles on our second date (I didn’t know there was such a thing as spinach noodles), and stir fry with fresh ginger on our third date (I’d never seen a ginger root before).
You could say he won me over in the kitchen.
Now, twenty-odd years later, he still makes stir fry for me.
I do know how to make it myself, and sometimes do, but it’s his specialty.Jump to Recipe
Might As Well Buy The Right Tools
Since Mr. A is the stir fry expert in our house, I bought him a new wok set for Christmas a few years ago. A “real” wok set.
I ordered it from The Wok Shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown, which has been selling woks to restaurants and the locals for 40 years. The wok and accessories actually came packed and wrapped in a Chinese newspaper, which was super fun on Christmas morning!
P.S. This is not an affiliate link or anything. I bought the wok there because it seemed like a good, legit shop that knew its stuff, right in the middle of SF’s Chinatown. I was so excited to give the set to my husband, I was nearly bursting on Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to see his face!
Yes, our wok is well-seasoned and well-used! Much like a cast iron skillet, you need to season it before the first use. The instructions are right on The Wok Shop’s website. That bamboo pokey-thing is for scraping up the bottom without scratching the wok. I have no idea with the wooden spoon is for, though. We don’t really use it.
If you don’t have a wok, you can absolutely make stir fry in a large skillet! It’s what we did for years. As long as it’s on high heat and has a lid, you’re good to go!
A Step By Step Guide
The first step to stir fry–or really any recipe in our house–is pouring a glass of wine for me or bourbon for Mr. Alexander.
I mean, why not?
One aspect I love about this recipe is you can substitute the vegetables for whatever you like. Have only green peppers on hand? Perfectly fine. Don’t like broccoli? Me either, I only enjoy it in stir fry. Don’t have fresh garlic on hand? No biggie, you can buy jars of the pre-chopped stuff. Pre-minced ginger is available as well, which I discovered barely a year ago. If you prefer beef over chicken, have at it. There are endless varieties!
Because I often get home from work before Mr. Alexander (job #1 for an attorney or job #2 for myself), I usually prep the veggies and chicken while Mr. A cooks the meal. Twenty years of marriage means teamwork, you know!
Once your veggies and chicken are chopped, just line them up next to the stove, heat your wok to high, and off you go! The recipe is below, but here are the basic steps:
- Cook chicken over high heat in small batches of peanut oil, garlic and ginger. Set aside.
- Start with mushrooms to get them nice and soft before adding the other veg. They can take some time.
- Add the broccoli and let it steam until it is a nice bright green. Keep it on the rawish side, as you don’t want the florets to fall apart at the end. Plus, the soak up the sauce beautifully!
- Peppers and the stalk of bok choy are similar consistencies, so they go in together.
- The bok choy leaves only require a minute, so add those when you add the chicken and oyster sauce just at the end and mix it all together. (We are partial to Dynasty oyster sauce, but since this I’m writing this during the COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve been punting to Lee Kum Lee Panda brand, as that’s what has been available. Works just as well!)
- Serve over white or brown rice, Asian noodles, or simply eat plain. Add a bit of soy sauce or red pepper flakes for heat. Whatever your preference!
Notes and Tips
If you are allergic to peanuts, you can substitute other oils with a high smoke point, such as canola, grapeseed or sesame seed. Because you’re cooking on high heat, be sure not to substitute olive oil or another fat with a low smoke point. You’ll smoke up your house and set off the fire alarm! (Not that we know anything about that….)
Each time you add a vegetable, you can add a little water as well. You will be putting the lid on and partially steaming, partially sauteing the veg, so you will need to evaluate whether there is enough moisture to prevent sticking and allow the veg to steam a little.
Yes, stir fry looks a little scary to children. We’ve been making it forever and even my 11 y/o boy won’t eat it because of the oyster sauce, though he does like the chicken cooked in the ginger and garlic. Over here at Chez Alexander, we pull out veggies before we cook them, as well as the chicken after it’s cooked and before we add the oyster sauce. Our boy even likes the uncooked bok choy leaves! He thinks it’s a fancy lettuce.
There is nothing that says kids have to eat the complete dish! As long as they are getting some protein and veg, who cares?
P.S. Branding error! I totally should have put our titanium spork on the boy’s plate. See? Life isn’t always picture perfect.
Happy sporking! Or, you know, chop sticks.
Mr. Alexander’s Stir Fry
- Wok or large skillet
- 6 tbsp peanut or canola oil divided
- 3 tbsp garlic chopped
- 3 tbsp ginger chopped
- 2-3 chicken breasts cubed
- 8 oz button or baby bella mushrooms
- 1 head broccoli
- 1 bunch bok choy or baby bok choy (stalks and leaves chopped and separated)
- 2-3 colored peppers
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- Water for steaming
- White or brown rice, or Asian noodles (optional)
- Heat wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tbsp peanut, canola, or other oil with a high smoke point. Add 1 tbsp garlic and 1 tbsp ginger. Brown the chicken in small batches, adding oil, garlic and ginger each time. Leave enough garlic and ginger to add in last step. Remove chicken and cover to keep warm.
- Add mushrooms to wok. If there is not sufficient oil to coat the mushrooms after the chicken is done, add a little more. Cook the mushrooms until soft. If you add a tablespoon or so of water, the mushrooms will cook more quickly.
- Stir in broccoli and cover to steam. Again, add about 1 tbsp of water if it looks dry. Steam 2-3 minutes or until bright green, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in colored peppers and the chopped stalk of the bok choy. Again, add about 1 tbsp of water if it looks dry. Cover and steam 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cooked chicken, chopped bok choy leaves, remaining ginger and garlic, oyster sauce and 1 tbsp of water if needed to thin the oyster sauce. Do not cover. Stir occasionally until bok choy leaves are slightly wilted.
- Serve plain, as we often do, or over rice or Asian noodles, as desired.