When making stir fry, I use chicken, onion, bell peppers, green onions, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. When doing this, I use just enough peanut oil to coat the bottom of the wok, and heat the wok up on high until the oil just starts to smoke, then start with the meat, then water chestnuts/bamboo, then peppers, then onions and finally the bean sprouts and green onions.

When doing this, I have a large quantity of water/liquid that accumulates in the wok, to the point where the cooking seems to devolve to boiling instead of stir frying. I often drain some of this off into the sink. I estimate that between what is drained off, and what is left, somewhere in the range of 3/4 to 1 cup of liquid forms.

I assume this is liquid released from the veggies when they're heated up. Is there anything I can do to reduce/limit the amount of liquid forming, which seems to greatly slow down the cooking, and doesn't leave the veggies as crisp?

2 Answers 2


Don't crowd the wok; steam has to escape.

Frying off meat separately then no more than a cup of veg at a time for an average/lg wok, should prevent steam from condensing to soup.

Some veg will always produce liquid unless cooking stops at the warm-but-raw stage: ie spinach.

Adding salty ingredients only in the last few seconds helps.

If you prefer quite tender veg then a parboil first is better than longer wok cooking.

I am guessing sprouts are your soggiest culprit. A blanching and pat dry might do the trick.

  • 2
    Salt will pull out the liquid from the vegetables. Avoid using salt when stir frying, add when it's finished cooking.
    – Coomie
    Oct 11, 2012 at 7:16

Better idea - don't use a wok at all. Unless you are blessed with a wok burner which crawls up the side of the wok and makes the whole thing (sides and all) hot. The key here is to get as much surface heat as possible to prevent steaming and get searing. Think about a wok and your stove - very small "HOT" area right on the bottom - the sides are cold in comparison. Now try a larger sauté pan... Very hot all over the bottom and plenty of space to "play with" - the key to stir fry is to evaporate, yet not steam. That's the "stir" part. The Fry part is very high heat.

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