Thai Vegetable Stir-Fry

Stir-fried vegetables, close-up of hand sprinkling seasoning
Ian O'Leary / Getty Images
    24 mins

Making a good vegetable stir fry amounts to a kind of work of art. You build it from the ground up, starting with garlic and ginger, then gradually adding the sauce and other vegetables. The sauce that you use must be flavorful enough to enhance the vegetables without overpowering them, and the kinds of vegetables you use make ​a difference in the way it tastes. The best veggies are the ones that absorb the sauce. I've given you a sample here of my favorites, but feel free to try your own combination. As for the stir-fry sauce, the key is the stock - make sure it is quite strong and flavorful (like a good soup). 

What You'll Need

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated or sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 fresh red chili, minced
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • optional: handful whole roasted cashews (unsalted)
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbsp. cool water
  • 1-2 tsp. sesame oil for serving
  • Vegetables:
  • 1/2 to 1 cup carrots, sliced or cut into matchsticks
  • 2-3 cups broccoli or Chinese broccoli ('gai lan')
  • 2-3 cups baby bok choy
  • 1-2 cups mushrooms (I like shiitake)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 can baby corn cobs
  • Stir-Fry Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup good-tasting (strong) chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. oyster-flavored sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sherry or white wine
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 heaping tsp. palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili (chili flakes)
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper or black pepper

How to Make It

  1. Combine 'Stir Fry Sauce' ingredients together, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
  2. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and swirl around, then add the garlic, ginger, and fresh chili (if using). Stir-fry 1 minute.
  3. Add the carrots (+ other firm vegetables you are using), plus 2-3 Tbsp. of the stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry 2 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and broccoli (or gai lan), plus more of the stir-fry sauce, enough to keep ingredients sizzling in the pan (add more when needed). Stir-fry 2-3 minutes, or until mushrooms have softened.
  1. Add the mini corn and bok choy, plus remaining stir-fry sauce, stir-frying until bok choy has softened but still retains some crispness in the stems.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and push ingredients aside to reveal the sauce. Add the cornstarch-water and stir to thicken. Stir-fry everything together 1 more minute. Add cashews if using.
  3. Taste-test your stir-fry and adjust to your liking, adding more fish sauce if not salty or flavorful enough. If too salty or sweet for your taste, add a little lime or lemon juice. Add more sugar if you'd like it sweeter, or more chili for more spice.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a serving platter, pouring remaining sauce from the pan over. Finish with a drizzle of sesame oil and serve with steamed rice or noodles.

About Sesame Oil

The addition of sesame oil in this recipe is a Chinese influence, one of many predominant influences in Thai cooking. Note that this oil should never be cooked, but only used at the end as a flavoring (sesame oil has many health benefits, but these are lost when heated).