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When I make a sauté, I use bell peppers, green onions, beef slices, carrots, ginger and mushrooms. I fry all the ingredients together, add some lime juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper and oregano. Then, I serve the fried ingredients over white sticky rice. The results are good, but how do I make it fantastic? Any additional sauce I can add to make things more savory? Should I add the rice in the wok?

Edit
Thanks for your answers. I made a fantastic sauté last night!

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7 Answers 7

up vote 11 down vote accepted

A few tips:

  • Marinate the meat first (after chopping, before stir-frying);

  • Mix the sauce first - don't just dump the ingredients separately into the wok;

  • Add corn starch or tapioca flour to the sauce to thicken it. I wouldn't even call it a sauce without any thickening agent. About 1 tbsp per cup of sauce should be alright. (Note: The sauce should be about 50-60% water, don't use a whole cup of soy sauce!)

  • Add some other savoury or flavour-enhancing ingredients to the sauce - i.e. toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar/honey. And ditch the oregano.

  • Briefly steam the vegetables in the wok - add just a little bit of the sauce, then cover it for a few minutes. This will make them much more tender after frying. (Note that this only applies to hard vegetables like carrots, celery, broccoli, etc. - add the soft vegetables afterward)

  • Add minced garlic with the ginger. The two go together like white on rice.

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1  
"Ditch the Oregano" is an excellent quote. I would add to that that someone should not mix between cuisines. OK maybe once in a while. But for the most part, stick to authentic ingredients, for example, don't add masala or cardamom to a Japanese based sauce. Likewise, don't add add pickled ginger as a condiment to marinara. –  dassouki Nov 3 '10 at 14:23
    
+1 for "Ditch the Oregano", that's got to be the new quote for remove the unrequired –  TFD Feb 28 '11 at 1:29
    
You also might want to mix the cornstarch with a couple tablespoons of water/broth/etc to dissolve it before adding to the sauce -- this will help minimize lumps. –  TJ Ellis Feb 28 '11 at 4:13
    
@TJEllis: Yes, that's very important indeed, if you don't do that then you'll just get large disgusting globs of semi-gelatinized starch in the sauce. I always mix my stir-fry sauces cold, which makes it effectively impossible to mess that up. (Specifically I start with the starch, then add about half a cup of water, then the rest of the ingredients, stirring after each addition.) –  Aaronut Feb 28 '11 at 15:18

To make it fantastic, here are a few tips:

  • wok needs to be screaming hot
  • sautee garlic and ginger first, followed by harder vegetables, followed by softer veg, followed by your protein
  • I only ever use salt OR soy, not both
  • Oregano is not a particularly Asian ingredient; try Thai basil instead
  • use sesame oil, not veg
  • Look for cookbooks by Martin Yan

There is also a depressing Western tendency to lump anything from the East under the term Asian, when the variety of different cuisines and flavours is staggering, and vastly different from each other. While some ingredients are similar--as many ingredients in the West are similar--one needs only look at a few things to see that 'Asian' as a descriptor for food is merely the product of Eurocentric thought. Thai cuisine is based around the sweet/salty/sour/spicy axes; Japanese cuisine is ethereally delicate; the Koreans rely on a lot of fermented products. This is without even addressing the concept of 'Chinese' cuisine (much like Italian, it's microregional cuisines) or venturing into the south Pacific.

Just saying.

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Martin Yan! That's a name I haven't heard in a while. I used to love his show when I was a kid. –  Aaronut Aug 7 '10 at 15:56
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When I was a teenager (early 90's) I used to watch his show religiously, with a notebook. Also the Urban Peasant (remember him? What a lovely man.) –  daniel Aug 7 '10 at 16:02
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Yan can cook, So can you. Good answer... –  Ocaasi Aug 7 '10 at 20:40

Did you try adding apple vinegar with some little sugar? it will give you sour taste, and you can also use coconut milk in your recipe which will give you the fantastic taste that want.

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If you like heat put some chili oil or dried red chilis in there.

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The biggest improvement to our stir fry came from replacing the soy sauce added to the dish at the end with hoisin sauce. A friend from China calls it "asian ketchup". It's a lot thicker by itself, so you don't need the additional thickeners with it. It's also a lot more likely to burn, so be careful and don't add it too early. I still marinate the meat with soy sauce/(rice wine or apple) vinegar ahead of time.

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You might be interested in trying other varieties of rice with your stir fry. Jasmine and Basmati rice have interesting flavors of their own, which can add quite a bit to complementary dishes. Brown rice is often chewier and more flavorful, though it takes longer to cook.

They can be found in the bulk food section of many whole foods markets, or in the Asian area of certain supermarkets; more exotic varieties might be available in an international food shop.

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When cooking stir-fried dishes with meat, I often griddle the meat seperately, rest it, then slice and mingle it into the pan at the end of cooking. It stays juicier and avoids blackening the pan.

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