Great Chicken Stir-Fry Made Easy

Making a stir-fry is the ultimate occasion to let your imagination go wild. While the recipe below is one way to do it, in reality the actual ingredients I may end up using a particular day will vary depending on what veggies we have on hand and what particular seasoning suits me at the moment.

Even so, there are two fundamental elements that are essential for success when making any type of stir-fry:

  1. Have EVERYTHING all set to go as the cooking process goes very quickly. Waiting to cut one of the ingredients can not only lead to over cooking of those ingredients that had just been stir-fried, it can also upset the natural cooking rhythm that happens during the constant motion of the stir-frying process.
  2. Use cooking oil that is appropriate to handle the high temperature that is created during the stir-fry process. For a list of high heat oils from which to chooses, see page 170 in New Good Food: Essential Ingredients for Cooking and Eating Well or page 109 in New Good Food: Shopper's Pocket Guide to Organic, Sustainable, and Seasonal Whole Foods.
And, finally using a wok rather than a frying pan really does make an appreciable difference in flavor and overall quality, due to its unique angles and construction which make quick cooking, as is the hallmark of stir-fries, at its best.

Serves 3–4


If using dried mushrooms: To rehydrate the mushrooms, pour hot water over dried mushrooms in a bowl, adding enough to cover the mushrooms. Let soak for 30 minutes. Then remove the mushrooms and strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or very fine sieve to remove any grit. Set aside soaked mushrooms and filtered soaking liquid.

Starting the stir-frying: Heat a wok over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles upon contact. Add 1 tablespoon of high oleic safflower oil, swirling it briefly around the sides and bottom of the wok to heat it.

Then add the sliced onion, and ginger or herbs, stirring and tossing them constantly for about 1 minute.

Next, add the chicken or tofu into a single layer in the wok, stir-frying for about 4-6 minutes until the chicken loses all traces of pink or the tofu is lightly browned on all sides. Sprinkle with tamari soy sauce and transfer chicken or tofu to a shallow bowl or plate.

Alternatively, if using dried mushrooms, stir-fry chicken or tofu for about 4 minutes and add the soaking water from rehydrating the dried mushroom. Bring it to a boil and cover the wok, braising the chicken or tofu for about 3-4 minutes. Uncover the wok to reduce liquid.

Then reheat the wok over medium-high heat, adding the remaining tablespoon of oil, swirling it briefly around the wok. Add the fresh mushrooms, stirring constantly for 1 minute, (followed by the hydrated mushrooms, if using), Then add the celery, stir-frying for 1 minute, and then the cabbage, stir-frying for 1–2 minutes, ending with a shake of the tamari soy sauce. As the veggies cook, push them up along the sides of the wok.

Then add the yellow squash, followed by the zucchini, stir-frying each for 1 minute.

Finally, combine the chicken or tofu to the cooked veggies in the wok, mixing thoroughly while warming up the chicken/tofu. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil and serve over cooked pasta, noodles, or rice.

Print Recipe | Back to List