Vegetable stir-fry and cooking with oil safely

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 10.09.13 PMBy John Linderman

Elm Staff Writer

If anything, stir fry cooking is a great way to add nutritious vegetables to your diet. By themselves, they are bitter and tasteless, so creativity is required; enter the wok.

The wok is a traditional cooking vessel originating from China, and can be one of the most versatile gadgets in your kitchen. It’s all the benefits of cast iron (if the wok is iron), but lighter and flexible. You can steam, fry, boil, and — provided you remove the wooden handle — bake with it. If this article should convince you of anything, it’s to spend the twenty five dollars at Redner’s and invest in the wok.

Here is a list of ingredients to make a basic, flexible chicken or vegetable wok dish:


*            Soy sauce

*            Two vegetables of your choice

*            One chicken breast, fresh

*            Kosher salt

*            Ground pepper

*            Spices and sauces of your choice

Starting with the marinade, mix one tablespoon of soy sauce into a bowl that contains your chicken. Add a hint of salt and pepper, and from here, the marinade can be a mixture of anything you desire. Taste diversity is encouraged: sweet, spicy, tangy, hot — anything.

In my mixture, I use a teaspoon of jalapeño sauce, a teaspoon of erythritol (a sugar substitute), a tablespoon of sweet and sour sauce, and pinches of Jamaican jerk rub, and sesame seeds.

Next, your chicken. You’re at liberty to salt brine the chicken for any amount of time before hand, but one of the best parts of this dish is the quick convenience of time it gives you. Cooking this won’t take longer than 10 minutes, unless you make a terrible, terrible mistake. Soak your chicken in the marinade for about 10 minutes before cooking.

Cut up your ample amount of vegetables. An example of two common vegetables would be snow peas and sliced red pepper. Wash these vegetables and then dry them off thoroughly to avoid sparking the oil when heated.

Important: make sure to never combine water with heated oil. The water will spark the oil and a fire may break out if enough water is added.

Heat the wok on high heat until smoke starts to come off the bottom. Then add one tablespoon of cooking oil, ideally one with a high smoking point like canola or peanut. Add the first batch of vegetables, and cook for one to two minutes while they sear and blister. Once they’re completed, add oil and cook the second batch for the same amount of time. The existing oil will start to gain the flavor of the vegetables, enhancing the taste of the chicken to come.

Once all the vegetables are done, add the chicken carefully to avoid oil spitting out. The chicken will need the most caution, because it can quickly burn if neglected. The less oil in the wok, the higher chance of burning and smoke there will be. However, adding too much oil will essentially be deep frying. Be strategic with the oil.

Once the chicken is cooked well, add all your vegetables to let the flavors meet and greet each other. Keep this for about two or three minutes, and then you are almost done. Carefully scoop the content out of the wok and avoid draining any oil into your dish. Push your wok off to the side, and let it cool until the oil is safe to dispense. Mix your food into a dish, and dig in.

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