Stir-Fry Cooking Tips

I got to know stir-fry cooking from my time spent living and working in Thailand. This type of wok cooking dominates the small eateries that are ubiquitous throughout that wonderful country. One of the reasons visitors and residents alike become so familiar with the Thai restaurants is due to the fact that eating out is almost always cheaper than cooking at home. Most Thai homes don’t really have a kitchen. That is to say that Thai people don’t cook. They certainly do. Many homes have kitchens that are in the back of the house. They are an open air style of kitchen. I am not sure of the exact reasoning for this, but I have a few guesses.

First, Thailand is hot a lot and cooks know that kitchen can get quite hot. In this country where air-conditioning is not used much, the kitchen, and its heat, is better off in an outdoorsy type setting. Another reason that Thai kitchens are generally outdoors is the fact that some of the ingredients smell. I won’t say they smell bad although many westerners would happily say this. The smells are different than what westerners are used to. The garlic and fish sauce can be especially pungent. If vampires are not fans of garlic, then they are definitely not present in South East Asia. Garlic goes into so many dishes—lots of garlic!

As I mentioned before going off on a kitchen tangent, people eat out frequently in Thailand. It is very cheap to do so. It often costs no more than two dollars for a meal with plenty of food. A lighter meal can be had for a dollar or less (this will be slightly more in the beach and tourist areas; Bangkok too). Because of this, I ate out a lot and observed the cooking habits of the Thai people. Taking a few Thai cooking courses helped too.

It seems that the majority of stir-fry style Thai dishes start with a few tablespoons of oil in the wok. Once the oil is warm, garlic is added. After 10 to 15 seconds, the smell of garlic will become apparent to all but those with the harshest of congestion. This is when you add the other stir-fry ingredients and start cooking.

That is really it. Oil and garlic first. Wait for the first sign of the garlic smell then throw in the stuff you are cooking.

There can be an order in which main ingredients are added. If you are cooking meat, this will likely go in first. Fresh veggies will also go in sooner rather than later, but leaf vegetables will often times be added later in the process so they are not cooked down too much.

If you are using fresh noodles (rice noodles are what they use in Thailand), these will go in near the end to. The idea with the fresh noodles is to put them in the wok long enough for them to get hot and get covered and mixed in with the sauce and other ingredients. That is all you need.

These techniques are certainly not limited to cooking Thai food. This holds true with tons of Asian stir fry dishes and can be applied to other dishes in the kitchen. Experiment and have fun with your cooking. The Thai people create all sorts of exotic sweets too. If you are interested in sweets that are dairy free, gluten free and paleo friendly, check out the Paleo Sweets Review page for a great cookbook on preparing these types of sweets.