What Is Oriental Stir-Fry?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Images By: Jjava, Cosma, Torsakarin, Wiml, Robin, Joshua Resnick
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2020
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Stir-fry is a cooking technique by which foods are quickly cooked in small amounts of oil over high heat. The technique, which was once primarily associated with oriental cuisines, has become popular all over the world. Vegetables retain crispness and texture, and stir-fry meals can be cooked in just a few minutes. Ingredients can vary widely but usually consist of meats and vegetables with a high percentage of vegetables, often thinly sliced to speed cooking. An Oriental stir-fry consists of foods, spices and sauces typical to the Far-East region of the world.

The type of pan most often associated with oriental stir-fry cooking is the wok, a large bowl-shaped pan. Traditional woks can be very large, although a typical wok found in a home is no larger than a large skillet. Oriental stir-fry cooking is done over very high heat, at temperatures much hotter than those used for similar techniques, like Western sautéeing and pan-frying. Very little oil is used, usually just enough to coat the bottom of the wok. Ingredients such as meats, vegetables, and even noodles are added depending on the cooking times needed for each ingredient with the items taking the longest to cook added first.


Other types of frying pans may, of course, be used for Oriental stir-fry as the main requirement for the technique is high heat and small amounts of oil. A typical frying pan or skillet is perfectly acceptable for this type of cooking. In an Oriental stir-fry dish, the foods are often seasoned with spices and sauces characteristic of cuisines from the region. Often associated particularly closely with Chinese cooking, Oriental stir-fry dishes are often prepared with ingredients like soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and oyster sauce among many other possibilities. Oriental stir-fry dishes are usually served with rice or noodles, but this is not always the case.

Many different meats and vegetables can be found in Oriental stir-fry, and they can vary by region or country. Meats such as chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp as well as vegetables like bok choy, carrots, peppers, onions, and broccoli are just a few, but many others, including some unfamiliar to many Westerners are used. In many countries outside the Far East, where this type of cooking has become popular, the addition of more local and regional ingredients is common, although in some areas with large Oriental populations, many of the traditional ingredients are available in Asian markets or even in more traditional supermarkets.



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