How to make the perfect Stir Fry…

What is a Stir Fry…?

Fish, meat, noodles or vegetables cooked in a small amount of oil over high heat while stirring briskly…Originating in China it has spread into other parts of Asia and the West.

I will be honest I struggled with stir fry’s when I lived in the UK now it is second nature to me…it is also the main method of cooking here…

I think the closest western countries come to stir-frying is sauté. It is also because food is cooked so quickly called blitz cooking by some…

The main sauces I use to stir fry are:

  • Oyster Sauce- richly flavoured, dark brown sauce made from oysters with salt and water.
  • Light Soy Sauce- Thai soy sauce has a mild and soft salty flavour not present in many other Asian soy sauces.
  • Dark Sweet Soy- very similar to Indonesian kecap manis, this syrupy sauce is thick, dark, and sweet. Also used as a dipping sauce.
  • Black Soy Sauce-a strong and bold, salty, and somewhat sweet soy sauce with a strong molasses flavour…I only ever use about 1/4 tsp for colour rather than flavour.
  • Mushroom Soy Sauce…made from mushrooms it can be used interchangeably with plain light soy sauce. It’s just a matter of preference…mine is the mushroom soy.
  • Golden Mountain Seasoning- a popular brand here and can be used instead of Maggi again its personal preference.
  • Maggi Seasoning- another popular seasoning sauce
  • Sesame Oil- an edible vegetable oil used sparingly in some of my stir-fries.
  • Soy Bean Paste-also is known as yellow bean sauce and salted soybeans, a much loved Thai condiment. There is also no doubt that it will heighten the flavour of food. Use in stir-fries particularly morning Glory.
  • Fish Sauce-made from fish or krill that have been coated in salt and fermented for up to two years.

Of course, there are other sauces used in stir-fries but these are my larder staples…I also buy the best that I can… like anything we all have favourites and there are many different makes…The only thing I will say is that with Soy sauce, in particular, they do vary greatly on whether you buy Thai Soy or Chinese/Korean Soy and do make a difference to the flavour of your stir fry.

Stir-fries are lovely because you can use anything and I do…I very rarely measure, weigh my meat, fish, noodles or veg… I go by eye …I think many cooks do this especially if they cook a dish often…

It also makes a difference in what type of heat you use...Gas or open fire and yes many Thais still cook on an open fire is better as your pan or wok heats up quicker and hotter and it does affect the taste especially with vegetable stir-fries like Morning Glory.

Other ingredients I always use in a stir fry…Again these are my staples for a stir fry.

  • Garlic
  • Chillies
  • Thai Basil
  • Holy Basil
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • Fresh Lime Juice

I also sometimes use red curry paste, fresh peppercorns.

I will give you some examples…

If I stir fry liver I use shredded lime leaves, fish sauce, red curry paste and fresh Lime juice often I just squeeze the lime and chuck in the rind and remove before serving.

If stir-frying meat I would use garlic, birds eye chillies, oyster sauce, mushroom soy, a tiny amount of black soy and a couple of shakes of Maggi or green Mountain seasoning and a little water.

Plus any vegetables like snake beans which come in green or red, kale, broccoli, wing beans…


If making a vegetable stir fry then I would use shallots or onions, green onions, maybe bell peppers or I sometimes add some noodles plus the sauces…

Stir-fried Morning Glory or Pad Pak Boon Fai Daeng is also known as water spinach…It is a very popular vegetable dish in Thailand and one I have for breakfast/brunch quite often with rice.
This is a very quick dish to cook once you have all your ingredients prepared..5 mins at the most.

  • 1 bunch of Morning Glory
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 or more Thai Chillies
  • 2 tbsp of Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Thai Fish Sauce
  • 1 tbsp of fermented soybean paste or oil with soya beans ( optional)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh veg or pork stock

Let’s Cook!

Wash and cut your morning-glory into 4-6 inch pieces.
Bash the chillies and garlic in a pestle and mortar
Heat the oil in a pan until very hot.
Add the garlic and chillies and stir-fry ( stirring) for 15-20 seconds be careful not to let the garlic burn.

Add morning-glory and all other ingredients except for the vegetable stock.
Stir-fry for 40 seconds and add vegetable stock and stir-fry for another 10 seconds.
Serve with steamed rice or as a side dish.

This stir fry was just made up as Aston wanted pork with peppercorns…



To make I just thinly sliced pork loin but you could use fillet of pork or chicken, A small amount of red curry paste which I cooked in a tiny bit of oil and with some shredded lime leaves and a shake of fish sauce. I then added a little coconut milk to make a little sauce added some chopped garlic and then my pork… cooked on high for a few minutes until the meat was cooked…sliced thinly and cooked high this cut cooks very quickly then added a couple strands of fresh peppercorns, chopped a snake bean and a couple of lovely wing beans cook for about 1-2 mins as we like our veg crisp. Taste and adjust seasoning but if you taste all through the cooking it should be fine..serve with rice or noddles…Enjoy!

If I am using Thai basil or holy basil the I cook my meat with oyster sauce, soy and black soy instead of the curry paste and then I wouldn’t use fish sauce.I only use fish sauce when I use curry paste.

This link is for the recipe with Thai basil but using minced pork and will give you the measurements but once or if you make as many stir-fries as I do then it becomes second nature and I just use my wooden spoon or with the Maggi seasoning just a few shakes and taste…

cauliflower-rice-pork-thai basil-recipe

If Thais use Grapow Moo or holy basil they add an egg and if it is sweet basil called horapa in Thai egg.

Don’t forget you can use fish cut up small or prawns or noodles…Yellow noodles are lovely with chicken and a few veggies or just without the chicken and some veggies…Almost anything goes with a stir fry…

I hope this has helped demystify a stir fry as many people I know just don’t like making them and steer clear just use your instincts and taste…As for measurement a handful of this and that depending on how many you are cooking for it will get easier any questions I am happy to help…

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and well being.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there will be more on this on my blog this year

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…Then, I will be happy!

Please stay safe and well and follow your governments safety guidelines remember we are all in this together xxx

39 thoughts on “How to make the perfect Stir Fry…

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Thank you, Teagan…it is easy just practise to get the taste right for you we did one with teriyaki sauce last night which was quite nice it all went quite quickly…Sorry for the late reply I just found you lurking in my spam folder…How very dare they Teagan do they not know who you are..but I rescued you…Hugs xxx


  1. Pingback: CarolCooks2…weekly roundup 12th July -18th July 2020…Climate Change, Recipes, Health, Whimsy, and Plantain… | Retired? No one told me!

  2. Sue Dreamwalker

    This sounds delicious Carol.. Its a while since I did a stir fry 😀 I remember a phase probably back in the 90’s when a Wok was an essential kitchen pan to have… And I enjoyed cooking a stir fry…. And still have my original Wok…. 🙂
    🙂 I have never tried the fish sauce..
    Hope you are well Carol…. Sending love and hugs my friend..


    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Thank you, Sue..yes if you have a good quality wok they last for ever…Fish sauce is an acquired taste and tastes better than it smells but I don’t use it in many stir-fries it depends what I am cooking usually when I am stir-frying with curry pastes the fish sauces comes out or goes…We are all well thankyou as I hope you are …Please stay safe and well …Hugs xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I cook a lot of stir frys as do Thais it is the main method of cooking here…I am sure you can as many sauces have Vegan options now and veggie stir frys are good …Thais use a lot of tofu but its not something I really eat I have tried and maybe if someone cooked me a great tofu dish I would like it…I don’t mind it I just don’t love it…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Victoria Zigler (@VictoriaZigler)

    I can see why a stir fry would be a popular option in Thailand, since it’s my go to option if it’s warm and I don’t want a salad, because you don’t have to have the cooker on for more than a few minutes.

    If you don’t want just a few veggies, and want an alternative to meat or fish for whatever reason – whether because you don’t eat it, or because you just want a meat-free meal that day – you can also cut tofu in to little cubes and put that in your stir fry, or shredded jackfruit works too. I’ve done both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I have used both tofu and jackfruit which I like…Tofu I am not a fan…But I stir fry most days its quick and easy in this heat ..Be well and stay safe, Tori and thank you for the e-mail I love that otters are doing what they do best its great Hugs x


  4. johnrieber

    Pinned and retweeted as well – how terrific! They key is the right sauce and balance of vegetables and protein…here in the US, we used 5X more meat than green – in Asia the balance is opposite in many cases – for the better!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I know, John from my visits to the US and yes here the meat to veg ratio is the other way round as a general rule….Much healthier..Cheers for the tweet and enjoy your stri frys 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Thank you, Dorothy we stir fry a lot it is the most favoured cooking method here… nice and quick given the heat and can be done over an open fire which many still cook on 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. quiall

    I was given my first wok (from local ChinaTown) and it took me all through University and beyond. Care of the wok was paramount but that wok lasted more than 30 years. When I was no longer able to cook, I passed it on to a friend. My staples: canola oil, garlic, bok choy, shrimp, oyster sauce and baby corn (water packed in a can). Great way to cook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Wow some of my pans are coming up to being that old ..they came with me to Thailand they are well used and well travelled and still as good as new…Good choice of staples all yummy…I hope you are much recovered now 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Good choices, Norah I love those as well …I suppose as stir fries are the main method of cooking here there is a huge array of sauces available. I only listed a few which are my staples really I do use others just not as much…:) x

      Liked by 1 person


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