Marketer | Writer | Global Citizen

The Only Stir-Fry Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Stir-fries are the original fast food. If you are allowed into a Chinese restaurant’s kitchen, do visit, if only to marvel at the satellite-dish sized woks that shoot out flames to the ceiling when in use. The acreage of a wok and its ability to heat up in seconds mean food can be seared and cooked in minutes, retaining freshness and flavor.

This recipe is an old standby for its tastiness and versatility. You probably have all the ingredients right now in your pantry and refrigerator. The classic take would be to buy 5 Hong Kong dollars’ worth of deep-fried pork at the corner charcuterie, use that as seasoning for a boatload of vegetables, and have a feast. Think of its possibilities for leftover rotisserie chicken and veg.

The Only Stir-Fry Recipe You’ll Ever Need

1/3 cup stock

3 tablespoons oyster sauce (available in most groceries)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

A squeeze of lemon juice or a tablespoon of cooking wine (I use Xiaoxing but you can also use sherry)

Vegetable oil

1/4 to 1/3 cup protein (see notes below), chopped into bite-size pieces

Two or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 cups leafy vegetables. chopped

Sesame oil

Optional: Chili, ginger

Combine the stock with the oyster sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice or cooking wine in a medium bowl. Coat your wok with oil and turn up the heat to maximum. Once the oil is shimmering, toss in the chicken, pork or beef and stir-fry furiously until their surfaces turn white. Carefully lift out the meat and dump it into the bowl with the stock solution.

Tip in the garlic (with the chili and ginger if using) and stir-fry rapidly. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until the leaves turn a brilliant green. Return the meat to the wok, including the stock solution. Clap on the wok’s lid and let the mixture steam for a minute or two. Uncover the wok and dribble sesame oil; toss to coat. Serve.

Notes

Any protein will do for this recipe but there are differences in when they’re added. I normally use two cubed chicken thighs. When using pork and beef, slice them into chopstick-appropriate strips and only add them after the vegetables, not before. Otherwise they’ll overcook.

Delicate seafood like fish might fall apart in this recipe. You can sub prawns or squid.

If you’re using tofu, opt for extra-firm tofu and fry the cubes first until they develop a nice, brown crust.

This recipe is best for leafy vegetables like bok choi, baby bok choi (my favorite), Napa cabbage, even romaine lettuce. You can also substitute broccoli or cauliflower. Fleshy vegetables like eggplant and squash require more time for cooking so you’ll need to adapt the timing as needed.

Feel free to combine vegetables. I’ve used asparagus and bell peppers with success.

Experiment with the seasonings. I’ve mentioned chili and ginger, but you could add grated lemongrass and cilantro for a Thai-inspired touch. You can also sprinkle fried garlic or onions for added crunch.

Wok cooking and maintenance

Have all the ingredients ready before you even start cooking. Stir-frying is maniacal and there’s no time to step back from the hob to chop or mix.

The number one reason for wok fails: It wasn’t heated up enough. When it’s devilishly hot, the wok sears the food, locking in the juices so it becomes tender. A namby-pamby temperature means the ingredients absorb the oil instead of getting cooked in a flash.

Don’t have a wok? Pass up a non-stick wok. It heats up poorly and is a lot more expensive than a traditional carbon steel wok. The latter is a workhorse and will last you many years with the right maintenance.

Season your carbon steel wok to make it non-stick. After cooking, don’t leave food for long periods in the wok. Wash the wok, dry it, heat it up on the stove and coat it with oil using a wadded up paper towel and tongs.

 

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Going For Woke: How Brand Activism is the New Path to Profit

‘These creatives are trying to make their toilet paper save the world.’
 
So opined fellow creative Rob Baiocco of BAM Connection, who was wryly commenting in a Guardian article about marketers’ new pursuit of social justice cred.
 
Is endowing the most banal of products with meaning as ludicrous as one would think? In October 2017, because the subject intrigued me as a marketer, I conducted my own research using SurveyMonkey.
 
The findings showed that, increasingly, consumers choose brands that are aligned with their values and shed those they perceive as a mismatch.

Use This Handy Asset Checklist For Branding or Rebranding

The exciting thing about branding is starting a new identity from scratch. In the case of rebranding, it’s giving something old and tired a new lease on life.

What’s not quite as fun are the million-and-one fiddly details that go into the exercise.

Stuff like:

  • Are the design team and me talking about the same thing? Like, is a stacked logo a square logo?
  • Are we covering all the items we truly need? Are we forgetting some that are actually important or, conversely, overdoing it and thereby incurring more expense?
  • Are we all on the same page about approval circuits and building in approval time before launch?

There are many excellent and free branding brief templates to furnish your agency or designer, such as this one from FreshSparks. What’s not so common is a laundry list of all the assets that should be covered by the process. A list sets the foundation for budgeting, timing and organizing. A list grounds you.

So here’s my version that I’ve used several times, from rebranding a 44-country international firm to creating a brand new identity for a digital agency. You can download it as a Word doc as well.

It’s a rare case where all items on this list will be checked off. B2B companies would require more of the digital templates while an e-commerce outfit would need a fuller range of ad formats. Feel free to adjust as necessary.

Logo/brand mark

Tesla logo guidelines

Tesla’s brand guidelines specify the amount of clear space required around the brand mark, as well as where it should appear. For example, the logo should never be placed on a highly patterned background or photograph is

  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • Square/stacked
  • Black and white
  • Reverse
  • Favicon

Files should be in as many formats as possible: JPG, PNG, EPS, AI. Include sizes that can be used for larger formats such as outdoor signage and as small as a favicon. The wide range of measurements will test the skill of your designer, as the brand mark has to look good at 16px (a favicon’s size) as it would wrapped around the side of a building.

Fonts

Beats By Dre typography example

Beats By Dre’s typography embodies its brand: Solid and contemporary, almost masculine.

  • Serif
  • Sans serif

A normal number of fonts to start with would be two, a serif and a sans serif that complement each other. Depending on the brand’s needs, you may also want to commission a script or another distinct font for headlines.

Exercise good sense in choosing fonts. The more fanciful or rare ones require a license which can be cost-prohibitive when purchasing it for multiple users.

In addition, clients who do not have these fonts in their systems will find that any documents you sent them have defaulted to Times New Roman or Arial, not to mention the formatting has all gone off. Remember that Google Fonts are good looking and free!

Color palette

AirBnb color palette

AirBnB’s color palette has 9 shades but 6 shades is a good number to start with.

  • Dominant color 1
  • Dominant color 2
  • Accent color 1
  • Accent color 2
  • Accent color 3
  • Accent color 4

Picking brand colors must be one of the most enjoyable parts of a brand exercise. If you want to play around with colors yourself, have a go using these tools.

Digital templates

Future Prospect Powerpoint template

From cover slide to bullet styles, your PowerPoint presentation should be consistent with your brand. Future Prospect PowerPoint template by Jumsoft.

  • Letterhead
  • PowerPoint or Keynote presentation
  • PowerPoint or Keynote charts – Pie, bar, stacked bar, line, etc.
  • Infographic
  • Icons
  • One-page brochure
  • White paper
  • Invoice
  • Receipt
  • Email signature
  • House ads – Leaderboard, mobile leaderboard, wide skyscraper, large rectangle, medium rectangle, billboard

Digital templates are the workhorses of your brand asset library. In the absence of guidelines, users tend to put their own creative stamp on common documents. Nip these in the bud by providing a full spectrum of branded applications.

Social media assets

Aman Instagram account

Aman’s Instagram account is serene and luxurious, just like the resort company itself.

  • Headers – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn
  • Profile photos
  • Social ads

Normally social media assets are cobbled together internally by the marketing or social media team. If so, it never hurts to run mockups by the brand steward or designer to gauge brand cohesiveness. Future iterations can then be created with pointers in mind.

Stationery

Jukebox Print cards

Print can be a surprisingly strong way to anchor your brand. Cards by Jukebox Print.

  • Business card
  • Letterhead
  • Letter envelopes
  • Window envelopes
  • Catalog or document envelopes
  • Invoice
  • Receipt
  • Note card or compliments slip
  • Presentation folder
  • Mailing label
  • Brochure

We like to think that print has gone the way of the mastodons, but marketers are discovering that in the mad rush to go digital, emptier mailboxes mean better opportunities to showcase your brand. Did you know that direct mail as a percentage of all mail went up in 2016? And never underestimate the power of the humble receipt to carry brand messaging.

Corporate signage

Slack offices Toronto

Lobby signage doesn’t have to be boring. Slack offices in Toronto, courtesy of Office Snapshots.

  • Lobby signage
  • Directional signage
  • Glass vinyl graphics
  • Exterior signage
  • Event signage

Think of signage as another canvas for your brand. How can you use that space to communicate your brand’s key attributes?

Trade show assets

Ray Ban tradeshow booth

This Ray-Ban tradeshow booth certainly turned heads at an ophthalmology conference in Milan. Photo courtesy of Trive Digest.

  • Retractable banners
  • Trade show booth
  • Table drapery

Apart from their networking benefits, conferences and trade shows are prime opportunities to build brand awareness. You may not have the budget of Ray-Ban in creating a stunning booth, but never underestimate how a well designed retractable banner can stop traffic.

Other applications

New York Post gummy bears giveaway

People are still talking about this bucket of gummy bears that the New York Post gave away during Advertising Week 2014.

  • Branded premiums
  • Branded attire
  • Vehicle wrap
  • Photography
  • Other application 1
  • Other application 2

Want to make this list yours? Download it as a Word document.

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