From America's Test Kitchen Season 1: Stir Fry Made Easy
A good stir-fry made with chicken, shrimp, or tofu is more difficult to prepare than a beef or pork stir-fry because these proteins, which have less fat, are often bland. Worse, they inevitably become dry and stringy or rubbery when cooked over high heat. We aimed to create stir-fry recipes that harmonized the flavors and textures of these lighter proteins with complementary vegetables and sauces.
These leaner proteins inspired us to create light, fresh-tasting stir-fries. We paired the chicken with zucchini, red bell pepper, and a zesty ginger sauce. And asparagus, yellow bell pepper, and a brightly flavored lemon sauce were a natural fit for the shrimp. Lastly, we selected a slightly more assertive hot and sour sauce, along with red onion and snow peas, to enhance the mild-flavored tofu. As with most of our stir-fries, we marinated the thinly sliced chicken and shrimp, and cubes of tofu in a combination of soy sauce and dry sherry to add flavor and moisture. After cooking the chicken, shrimp, or tofu and removing it from the pan, we stir-fried the vegetables in batches, quickly cooked the garlic and ginger (the classic stir-fry combination) in the center of the pan, and returned the protein to the pan along with the sauce. This final mixture needed less than a minute over medium heat to finish.
We find that a large nonstick skillet is better suited to stir-frying on a conventional home stove than a wok. With a horizontal heat source, a horizontal, not rounded, pan works best. To prepare chicken for a stir-fry, separate the tenderloins from partially frozen breasts, slice the breasts into 1/2-inch-wide strips that are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, then slice the tenderloins on the diagonal to produce pieces about the same size as the strips of breast meat. There are two ways to mince ginger. You can cut peeled ginger into small cubes and then put the cubes through a garlic press, or you can cut the peeled ginger into thin rounds and then into thin strips. Stack the strips together and cut crosswise to produce finely minced bits of ginger.