Stir-Fry 101

Stir-Fry 101

The Essential Ingredient | Cuts for Stir-Frying | Flavor Enhancers | The Technique | Chow Sauce Recipe

Family dinnertime is one of the favorite times—and the most important—in our homes. So having a few tricks up our sleeves to make a weeknight dinner happen is crucial. One of our favorites is stir-frying. It's quick, it's easy, and the whole family enjoys it.

No matter what the favorite style of stir-fry at your house, there are some basic ingredients and techniques you need to start. As long as you've got those down, you can be creative to your heart's content. Invent your own signature family dish and keep 'em coming to the table.

The Essential Ingredient

Grapeseed oil is an excellent medium for creating superb high-heat dishes because its smoke point is among the highest of all edible oils—485°F, as compared to peanut oil, which is generally used for stir-frys but has a smoke point of 440°F. The smoke point is the point at which heat breaks down an oil's composition turning it bitter and vulnerable to burning. Its high smoke point means grapeseed oil is ideal for high-heat stir-frying.

Used by leading chefs around the country, Salute Santé Grapeseed Oil has a delicate, neutral flavor with slightly nutty undertones so it's also a good choice for baking and takes on flavors readily. Silky smooth and clean on the palate, Salute Sante also makes wonderful salad dressings and marinades for poultry, light meats, and seafood.

Cuts for Stir-Frying

Cut from the small end of a whole tenderloin, our Filet Tails lend themselves to a wide variety of uses—including stir-fry. Simply cut our Filet Tails into chunks or strips for stir-frying.

Lobel's USDA Prime Flat Iron Steak is an economical and highly flavorful steak. It boasts tenderness that rivals that of more premium steaks, while its beefy flavor is hearty and compares to skirt or hanger steak.

Hand-cut from the tail of the tender and flavorful tenderloin, these USDA Prime Beef Stir Fry Strips are perfect for any quick-cook Asian dish, including classic Chinese stir fry.

Our convenient Chicken Breast Stir Fry Strips are hand-cut from juicy boneless, skinless chicken breasts, these all-natural strips are great in stir fry.

An unforgettable cut exclusive to Lobel's, this signature London Broil is in a class of its own for exquisite flavor, tenderness and texture. Slice thinly on the diagonal for stir-frying.

Our sweet, succulent Pork Tenderloin is a highly versatile selection. Cut into strips or cubes for stir-frying. Try marinating it first to add extra oomph to your dish's flavor.

Our Boneless Center-Cut Pork Roast, featuring the eye of the loin, is a boneless version of a rack roast. It's great for when you're stir-frying for a crowd, or if you want to get multiple uses out of one selection. Cut as much as you need into cubes for stir-fry and roast the rest!

Favorite Stir-Fry Flavor Enhancers

Once you've got the basic technique down, try experimenting with other exciting and exotic ingredients.

Nirmala's Kitchen Wild Fire Chili Blend Nirmala's signature chili powder is an intense, flavorful fusion of d'arbol and habanero chiles that will turn up the heat in dishes of any cuisine. Try adding a pinch to your stir-fry sauce for added heat and depth.

Stir-Frying: The Technique

1. Gather your equipment.

  • Wok: The best woks are made of carbon steel and react quickly to sudden changes in heat.
  • Chinese spatula: Also called a Wok Spatula, this utensil is wide and flat with a curved edge to conform with the wok's curves.

2. Prepare your mise en place.

  • Do all your preparation ahead so all your ingredients are ready to go once you commence stir-frying.
  • All ingredients should be cut to about the same size if you want to cook multiple ingredients simultaneously. For texture and presentation purposes, if various sized ingredients are used—stir-fry in separate batches and combine at the end.

3. Prepare your wok before cooking.

  • Heat your wok dry until a drop of water dances in the pan and evaporates just about on contact.
  • Use grapeseed, vegetable, or peanut oil. Heat the oil and swirl it to coat the inside of the wok before adding any ingredients. Once you have swirled the pan, you need to begin cooking immediately.

4. Let's stir-fry!

  • Try browning aromatics—a thick slice of fresh ginger, a garlic clove, or a small chili pepper—in the oil as it heats to flavor it. Remove the seasoning before proceeding.
  • Start with the meat or poultry. Do not crowd the pan. Let the meat brown slightly, flipping to brown on all sides. Remove meat from the pan, then stir-fry all other ingredients using the same technique.
  • When all ingredients are browned, combine in the wok to heat through. Push the ingredients to the side to make a well in the center.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add sauce ingredients to the well. Allow the sauce to thicken a bit and then stir-fry to coat all the contents of the pan.

Recipe: Homemade Chow Sauce

This is an all-around starting point for a stir-fry sauce to which you can add any flavorings you choose to create your own unique dishes.


2 Tbsp. soy sauce*
2 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine**
2 Tbsp. chicken stock
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tsp. hot water to make a slurry
1/2 tsp. salt


  1. Mix the soy sauce, rice wine, chicken stock, and sugar together. Heat until boiling in the well formed in the bottom of the wok.
  2. Add the cornstarch slurry. (Pour through a strainer if you have lumps.)
  3. Stir until it begins to thicken and then stir in all the ingredients to coat completely.

* Some brands refer to light soy sauce. Be aware that this designation distinguishes its viscosity and flavor, not its sodium content. This is the type found on tables in Chinese restaurants. Dark soy sauce is thick and concentrated. The two are not interchangeable in recipes. Low-sodium soy sauce is another option. Be sure to check the label.

** Shaoxing wine is authentic Chinese rice wine, and it might be hard to find in stores outside major cities. Try substituting dry sherry, which has a very similar taste. As a last resort, Chinese cooking wine is essentially rice wine and salt. If you have no other option than this, eliminate the salt in the ingredients.