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How to make the perfect stir fry

Just in time for Chinese New Year

How to make the perfect stir fry
28 January 2011

When it comes to making a stir fry, we usually depend upon the conveniently bundled kit that can be easily found in our local Tesco. We'll usually fry it until it's limp and greasy and then smother it in a teeth-rotting sachet of sweet and sour sauce.

This can go on no longer. We've been chatting to one of the world's most respected chefs Ken Hom and he's given us his simple recipe for the perfect stir fry, just in time for Chinese New Year.


100g (4oz) Tianjin or Sichuan preserved vegetables

1½ tablespoons groundnut or vegetable oil

450g (1lb) minced pork

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar


lettuce leaves


3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions

fresh chilli (optional)

I’d like to choose minced pork for this as it’s easy and we all like easy. It’s also really hard to screw up, which people like. People need to remember when they’re making a stir fry the wok needs to be really hot. Keeping the wok extremely hot is important as it gives the meal a smoky grill flavour which is important in a stir fry.

What I would do is get these really flavourful preserved vegetables that you can buy in Chinese supermarkets, rinse them well, drain them and then blot with kitchen roll. Chop them up and put them aside. If you can’t find preserved vegetables then they can be substituted for pickled gherkins.

You then heat the wok until it’s really hot before you add the oil. Then you add the oil and put in the minced pork. Then you start frying it for around 2 minutes and add the preserved vegetables and then finish that with some soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and a bit of sugar. You don’t need salt because the preserved vegetables are salty.

I like to serve that in fresh lettuce leaves, adding chopped spring onions and then a bit of chilli.

Ken Hom's Complete Chinese Cookbook is out now, BBC Books, £25