Tur­nupthe­heat for these su­per stir-fry siz­zlers

Chef and writer Ching-He Huang knows a lot about mak­ing a great meal. By Ella Walker

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

How many of us have lumped for a su­per­mar­ket stir-fry mix, com­plete with sickly packet sauce, dumped it all in a wok, burned the bot­tom, and wished we’d just ordered in chow mein? We’re bet­ting this hap­pens a lot.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In her new cook­book, Stir Crazy, TV chef, foodie en­tre­pre­neur and Chi­nese cook­ery afi­cionado Ching-He Huang has come up with 100 stir­fry recipes that won’t in­volve dry, fraz­zled chicken and limp beansprouts.

“We are liv­ing in a fast-paced world and time is of the essence,” she says, ex­plain­ing why our ob­ses­sion with flash-fried noo­dles and crunchy veg isn’t likely to wane.

“They’re quick, ac­ces­si­ble, speedy and non-threat­en­ing — you don’t need a lot of fancy kitchen equip­ment.”

How­ever, de­spite how quick and easy they are, in the West, we’re still prone to mess­ing up our stir-fries.

“Peo­ple add ev­ery­thing in at once and hope for the best, but re­ally, the sim­ple mes­sage is that ev­ery in­gre­di­ent needs its time,” says Tai­wan-born Ching, (38).

“That’s the beauty of stir-fry­ing, you heat the wok up to a re­ally high heat, then you add the oil — when you swish the oil around it cre­ates even heat dis­tri­bu­tion.

“Then you add gar­lic, ginger, chill­ies — the holy trin­ity — and I al­ways love to add all three, be­cause why not? They need a few sec­onds, then add your pro­tein or crunchier veg­eta­bles, car­rots first, then let ev­ery­thing set­tle and caramelise on one side, saute, then turn and toss to cook; sea­son and serve.

“Ev­ery el­e­ment of that process needs its own time,” she says, mak­ing rapid-stir fry­ing sound more ther­a­peu­tic than manic.

“Be mind­ful that hav­ing all the in­gre­di­ents prepped be­fore­hand helps,” she adds. “That’s where peo­ple go wrong, be­cause they think, ‘I’ll chop and just chuck it in’, but if you do that, you burn what­ever’s in the wok.” It’s not just ease and speed that at­tracts Ching to stir-fries. For the north Lon­don based cook­ery book writer, it’s a dish that of­fers myr­iad health ben­e­fits.

Half the recipes in Stir Crazy are veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan, and when meat does fea­ture, it makes up no more than 20% of a dish.

“We need to cut down on our meat con­sump­tion — we all need to,” she says. For Ching, food is as much about eat­ing well as it is about tak­ing care of your­self. “Tra­di­tion­ally in Chi­nese cul­ture, food is medicine — we’ve al­ways be­lieved you heal your­self through what you eat.”

“You need to cleanse, you need to detox, you need to nour­ish and you need to heal,” says Ching with feel­ing, not­ing that it’s all about balance. Stir Crazy: 100 De­li­ciously Healthy Stir-fry Recipes by Ching He-Huang, pho­tog­ra­phy by Tamin Jones, is pub­lished by Kyle Books, priced £19.99. Avail­able now

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