Vegetable stir fry is a quick and easy Chinese dish.

Stir-frying adds a whole new dimension to your plain vegetables, only if you do it right.

In this article, I want to explain how to prepare Chinese vegetable stir fry in detail.  Your lustrous, gorgeous vegetable stir fry with remarkable texture will knock your socks off. You will recognize immediately the ineffable taste that you are familiar with at the Chinese restaurant.

I have divided this recipe into five steps:

Step 1: Prepping the vegetable
Step 2: Blanching the vegetables
Step 3: Prepping the sauce
Step 4: Saute the garlic
Step 5: Stir-fry the vegetables

Vegetable stir fryStep 1: Prepping the vegetables

In this recipe, I am using five common vegetables to prepare the stir-fry- broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, snow peas and carrots.

Broccoli.  Cut the stem off close to the head so that the forests will fall away as florets naturally. Discard the lower part of the stem which is usually hard and fibrous.  Cut the more tender part of the stem into slices or wedges. This section is full of flavor, so I suggest you should not throw them away.

Cauliflower.  Cut the cauliflower in half from the top of the crown through the stem. The large florets will naturally fall off from the core.  You can use the tip of the knife to separate the large floret into bite-size. I prefer to have large florets as it looks better

Take a look at the surface of the cauliflower, if it develops some small black specks on the surface, remove it by using a vegetable peeler before cutting.  It is easier to remove the black specs before cutting than after.

Snow peas. Remove the ‘string’ of the snow peas that is tough and fibrous.  To do this, pinch the curly end of the snow pea, pull it along the pod al the way to the other end until it separates from the snow pea.

Carrots.  Peel off the skin of the carrots.  Cut the carrots into wedges by cutting it at an angle and turn it a quarter after each cut.

Capsicum.  Cut the top and bottom away. Then you can remove the core and seeds quickly as it is still intact as one piece.  Cut the capsicum into larges slices of triangular shape.

Step 2: Blanching the vegetables

Blanching the vegetables before stir-frying serves two purposes:-

Shorten the time requied for stir-frying. Since stir-frying is a quick process, the time involved is not enough to heat through some vegetables, for example, a wedge of carrot.  Blanching is even more relevant when you want to ensure the bigger florets of cauliflowers and broccoli are cooked.  Furthermore, prolonged frying will cause the vegetables became yellowish and lost the bright color.  I regularly blanch them and only stir-fry the vegetables over high heat briefly.

Set aside for later use.  This method will destroy the enzymes which will discolor foods and cause them to deteriorate. By doing this, the color will maintain even though after a few hours.  You can also get this done a day before, and store them in the refrigerator until the following day.

Here are the steps:

  • Brings a pot of water to a boil.  The amount of water has to be at least three times the volume of the vegetables.
  • When the water is boiled, place the carrot wedges into the water.  Let them cooked for three minutes.
  • Once the carrot pieces are half cooked, add cauliflower and broccoli florets into the water.  Keep the water at a consistent boil for two minutes.
  • Add the snow peas and boil for a one minute. Use a fork to pierce into one of the broccoli florets.  The broccoli and cauliflowers are just done when the fork can slide in and out smoothly.  The snow peas should by now crisp and cooked.
  • Lastly, add the capsicums and just let it heat up in the water for fifteen seconds.
  • Drain with a wire mesh strainer or colander. Set aside for stir-frying.


Shock the vegetables if you intend to keep the vegetables for later use.  Otherwise, you may head straight to stir-frying after blanching.

Shocking means to throw the vegetables into an ice bath to halt the cooking process immediately.  This method stops the vegetables cooking from the inside, which results in a mushy and discolored product.

Here are the steps:

  • Prepare an ice bath (cold water with ice cubes).
  • Drain the vegetables after blanching.  Pour the vegetables into the ice bath immediately.  Make a few stir to let the heat dissipate from the vegetables.
  • Let the vegetables cool down for a few minutes in the ice bath, to let the inner part cools completely.
  • Drain and store in the refrigerator.

Step 3: Prepping the sauce

Prepping the stir-fry sauce is simple.  I recommend the following basic stir-fry sauce for this recipe.  You can make changes by adding soy sauce, sesame oil or change the amount of each ingredient.

Noted that I have included cornflour in the formula, which will thicken the sauce. Therefore you do not need to add ‘cornflour slurry’ anymore during stir-frying.

There is no time to waste during busy hours in the restaurant. Hence, we make a large batch of this sauce and store in the refrigerator.  You can adopt the same concept if you want to prepare a significant portion for your guests for parties by making it in advance.

Step 4 (Final step): Stir-frying

You may have watched the Chinese restaurant chef stir-fry over a towering inferno, but in practice, this seems a distant dream to come through in the home kitchen.

I would very much suggest you purchase a high power wok burner.  It is not expensive and is invaluable for stir-frying and many other Asian cooking methods.  In the event this not possible, you can still produce excellent dish by following these steps.

  • Heat up some vegetable oil in the wok (or saucepan).
  • Add a tablespoon of chopped garlic and saute over low heat until it turns aromatic.  Here you have two choices.  You can just stop short once the garlic becomes fragrant, or continue sauteing it until it turns golden brown (and crispy). If you want the garlic crispy, continue to stir and move the garlic around or else it will tend to stick to the wok and burn quickly.
  • Add the pre-mixed stir-fry sauce and continue the cooking process. The cornstarch is cooked when the sauce turns translucent.  You should take note of this as uncooked cornstarch taste awful.
  • After that, add all the drained vegetables to the wok.

If you want to serve the Chinese vegetable stir fry immediately, crank up the heat and stir-fry over the highest flame you can muster.

Stir fry for a short moment (around half a minute) until you can smell the aroma that you are familiar with in the Chinese restaurant.  We called it wok-hei, or means ‘the breath of wok’.



Vegetable Stir Fry
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