Olive Magazine

How to cook the perfect stir-fry

Published: August 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Stir-frying is one of the quickest, easiest and healthiest cooking methods, but there is an art to creating the perfect dish. Here award-winning master wok chef, Harry Yeung MBE, explains how to create the perfect stir-fry.

Preparation is key


Make stocks, chop vegetables and have spices to hand before turning on the heat – there won’t be time to prepare anything once you’ve started cooking.

Chop, chop chop

Ensure your ingredients are a similar size for even cooking. The most common mistake is to throw all the ingredients in at the same time – the ingredients that take the least time to cook, such as pak choi, go in right near the end.

Cut on the diagonal

Many Chinese recipes call for vegetables to be cut ‘on the diagonal’ (traditionally called ‘horses ear’, because that is what the shape resembles). Diagonal cutting exposes more of the vegetable's surface area to the heat, making it cook quickly and allowing it to absorb more of the sauce and seasonings.

Use the holy trinity of Chinese cooking

Plenty of garlic, ginger and chillies for full on flavour.


The Yin and Yang philosophy lies at the heart of Chinese cooking. Yin and Yang creates balance and refers to harmonious pairings – allow a balance in colour, flavours, and textures. Pair green and red vegetables, zesty and spicy flavours and smooth and crunchy textures.

Don’t be afraid to substitute

Many Chinese recipes contain cooking wine in the ingredients, usually Shaoxing rice wine. But if you don’t have any to hand you can use pale dry sherry as a good replacement.

Look after your wok

Stir frying requires high heat, which woks are specially designed to withstand. Let your wok cool down after cooking... if you submerge in water straight away, the metal can distort. To clean, wipe with a soft sponge in warm soapy water and rinse. Dry carbon steel woks on the hob before wiping with oil to keep it ‘seasoned’.

Get cooking!

Feeling inspired? Check out olive magazine's best ever stir-fry recipes here

Harry Yeung's award-winning Yang Sing restaurant has launched a new range of Cantonese cooking classes, so you too can perfect the art of stir-frying at home. Just click on the links in blue to find out more.

This week, on the olive magazine podcast we celebrate National Dumpling Day with a guide to where to find the best dim sum in London’s Chinatown, plus we speak to Chloe Scott-Moncrieff, founder of the Young British Foodie awards.

olive magazine podcast ep70 – where to get the best dim sum in Chinatown


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