The Secret Ingredient You Should Be Adding To Stir Frys

Stir frying is a fast and effective way to cook beautiful vegetables and bite size pieces of meat in a seemingly quick amount of time. This efficient method of cooking originated in Asia. Foods that go into a stir fry are cut and diced into small pieces before they are cooked in a little oil in a hot wok. Foods that need to cook the longest go in the wok first, with the ingredients that cook the fastest going into the wok last. The stir fry sauce is the finishing ingredient to hit the pan, and encapsulates the ingredients' flavors, creating a savory and mouthwatering meal. 

The goal when cooking this dish is to keep all the ingredients in motion by turning and tossing so nothing burns (via The Culinary Institute of America). One of the benefits to stir frying your vegetables is they retain their color, crunchy textures, and crisp taste, while meats are easily seared, and remain juicy and succulent (via Cooking Light). 

The wok is key to the process. A flat bottom-pan would require more oil, and would make for a messy meal where the ingredients may end up all over the stove when you are flipping what's cooking, rather than landing back at the bottom of the pan. A wok distributes heat more evenly and requires less oil to cook with (via The Spruce Eat).

But the best kept secret for cooking stir fry is this secret ingredient you must use.

What is the secret ingredient for stir fry?

Food & Wine suggests adding ketchup to your stir fry. Yes, that's right. It's every kid's favorite condiment for everything from chicken nuggets, to French fries, and it is the secret ingredient you need to add to your stir fry. Why? Ketchup creates a yin and yang for your taste buds with its sugary and savory flavors that counter the spicy ingredients in stir fry, while adding a mild sweetness. And, ketchup packs a bold punch to just about any stir fry recipe regardless if you are using shrimp, chicken, pork, or beef. 

A writer for A Solitary Feast notes that while ketchup is not a favorite sauce, the one dish that does require it is stir fry. With over 330 million bottles of ketchup sold annually, ketchup is clearly popular, but it is also the secret ingredient for many a chef, including Gabriel Sorgi, executive chef at the Monkey Bar and Restaurant in New York City. Sorgi uses ketchup in his Stir Fried Duck and noted that while it might not be come to mind when you think of fine ingredients, you definitely want it in your arsenal for dishes like stir fry (via New York Daily News).

Bottom line: Just because ketchup seems like something that should be reserved for anything you find on a kid's menu, doesn't mean you should forego adding it to your next stir fry.