Top stir-fry advice: High heat, a quick hand and plenty of fine chopping

Test your culinary skills with a spot of stir-frying.

The wok is the most versatile cooking pot. Across Asia, cooks use woks for deep frying, steaming, making sauces and cooking noodles. They don't need an armoury of different pots and pans in the kitchen. A medium-sized wok will make most meals in a household, and it is essential for that most versatile of meals, the stir-fry, which is a dish that can be adapted to practically any ingredient you have in the fridge.

Any recipe for a stir-fry need only serve as a guideline. That's not to say my recipes aren't carefully tested, but many of the ingredients can easily be replaced. If you have chicken in your fridge, you could happily use that instead of the pork fillet in the pork and ginger stir-fry recipe, opposite. While the green beans could make way for courgettes or even mushrooms. Once you've got to grips with the basics of stir-frying, you can either use up what ingredients you do have, or choose your own selection of great ingredients that work perfectly together.

A few basics of stir-frying include heat, ginger, garlic and soy sauce (as well as both stirring and frying!). A wok is certainly not essential to a stir-fry, but extremely useful. Woks can get very hot, which is definitely essential to a stir-fry. Using a really high heat means that the ingredients will not stew or steam, instead, they will fry and brown, which is crucial to the flavour of the final dish.

Ginger and garlic are two important flavourings to a stir-fry; they're strong flavours that are fried at the start and give a basis to all the ingredients that follow. The soy sauce, used in place of salt, is the other essential flavouring that gives a stir-fry its distinctive Asian taste.

Stir-fries are a convenient supper to make. For the most part, they're a one-pot dish. Yet, while fairly easy and certainly quick to cook, they do require a fair amount of chopping. Just consider it a good opportunity to improve your knife skills!

Related Stir Fry Recipes:

Rachel recommends

If you’re going to be doing much stir-frying, I would urge you to buy a wok. They really are so versatile. You can buy very cheap but still really useful woks at almost any Asian food shop. They are light and beautiful and will soon be a much-loved addition to your kitchen. You needn’t buy a non-stick wok, as over time a wok will develop its own non-stick coating. To do this, the wok must first be “seasoned,” by rubbing it all over with a little sunflower oil before using. After that, it’s important never to wash your wok with washing-up liquid, only with water and some elbow grease. The wok will quickly develop a coating that works just as well as any non-stick wok.

Rachel's tip

To peel fresh root ginger, try using the tip of a teaspoon rather than a peeler. This is not only an easier way of peeling ginger, but it is also much less wasteful, as you remove less of the ginger’s flesh in the process.

Rachel Allen Oct 13, 2014 News