Surely a contender for most versatile dish known to mankind - here’s some tasty additions to throw into the wok

Image: 6 flavour twists on stir-fry

One of the speediest dishes you can make, the stir-fry lends itself to loads of different twists on ingredients. You can alter the flavour simply by using different oils such as chilli, peanut or sesame – but there’s a whole range of other ingredients that complement different meats and fish. We’ve got some suggestions for stir fries with a difference.


1. Chicken with peanut butter

Peanuts are the basis of satay sauce, which is delicious with chicken. You can replicate the sauce by adding a tablespoon of smooth peanut butter (or crunchy, if you like a bit of texture) towards the end of the cooking time. If the sauce needs loosening, add a splash of boiling water or – even better – soy sauce. 


2. Lamb with soy and balsamic vinegar

Adding a few dashes of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar will bring a lovely sweet-sour, Asian-style flavour to a stir-fry. The balsamic becomes slightly sticky if you allow it to caramelise a little – but take care not to burn it. For extra texture, you could throw in a handful of chopped unsalted peanuts or cashews, or add in half a can of drained beansprouts.


3. Pork and broccoli with honey

Pork is a meat that works well with sweet flavours – think apple sauce with chops or the 80s classic of gammon and pineapple. A liberal drizzle of clear honey added when your stir-fry is nearly cooked (to prevent it from bringing the temperature down at the crucial point) will enhance the flavour of the broccoli, too. Add a good grinding of black pepper to finish the dish perfectly.



4. Chicken with tarragon

Chicken and tarragon are a match made in heaven. If you’ve never tried the combination before, now’s the time to experiment in a stir-fry. You can use dried tarragon or fresh – remembering that dried is more intense in flavour. If you’re using fresh, throw in a tablespoon of chopped leaves towards the end of cooking time so they preserve their colour a little. With dried, add a teaspoonful when you start stir-frying the chicken. A few squeezes of lemon or lime juice and a pinch of sugar will give a lovely depth of flavour.


5. Seafood with ginger

Seafood cooks in double-quick time, so if you’re adding fresh ginger (which seafood loves), chop it and fry it before you add the fish. Take it out to prevent it from burning and add it back in at the end for a lovely, warming depth of flavour. Ginger goes very well with garlic, and an alternative way of spicing up a seafood stir-fry is to add a couple of teaspoons from a jar or tube of garlic and ginger paste.


6. Beef with caramelised onion chutney

Onions take on a beautifully sweet and delicate flavour when caramelised – and they’re even tastier in a chutney. The sweet-and-sharp notes work wonderfully with lean strips of beef in a stir-fry. Add a dessertspoonful towards the end of cooking, along with a splash of water if the mixture needs loosening. This would also work well with pork.


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