Friday, May 22, 2009

Chinese Stir-Fry - Lily Bulb, Celery with Meat (鲜炒百合芹菜肉丝)

Stir-Fry is a cooking method devised by Chinese to sear and cook food fast with high heat. Though it sounded rather complicated and somewhat intimidating, Stir-Fry is a relatively easy cooking method. As long as you follow some rules , anyone can do stir-frying.

First rule – Be prepared

Anyone who knows how to stir-fry will tell you that ingredients have to be prepared beforehand. See, because you have to cook all ingredients with high heat, you cannot afford to have some ingredients in pan searing while you go on to cut up some vegetable.

So what we usually do is to prepare them first. Wash whatever that is needed to be wash, Cut up whatever there is need to be cut and lastly marinate whatever that is needed to be marinated before you switch on the gas to heat up the pan.

Second rule – The Proportion

Stir-frying meant that all ingredients have to be cook at the same time. However, different ingredients have different density and needed different cooking time to be thoroughly cooked, so how do we ensure that?

We have to make sure that all the ingredients should be cut up into the relatively similar size. For example carrots, if you cut some of them in shreds, but got tired and decided to slice them in various sizes, it is plausible that you might ended up with properly cooked carrots shreds and raw carrots slices. This will affect your stir-fry dish.

Third rule – The Order

This is what most chef (westerners) missed out. I always cringed when seeing westerners’ chef demonstrating how to cook stir-fry. They had no doubt got the first and second rule right, but missed out the third which I think is the most important point for a good stir-fry.

Because different ingredients cooked at different timing, there is an unspoken order on what should go into the pan first. Generally, food that needs longer cooking time has to go into pan first.

I am sure that by now all of you will have some concept on what is stir-frying. The first recipe which I would like to share with all is Stir-Fry Lily Bud, Celery with Meat - 鲜炒百合芹菜肉丝.

Please adjust according to number of people.
  • Lily Bud - 1 pack
  • Celery - 4 Stalks
  • Meat - Cut into shreds and marinated
  • Wolfberries - a handful
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
  • Oyster sauce - about 2 tablespoon
  • Pepper - A dash


Lily Bulb, according to wiki, is the underground veritcal shoot that has modified leaves as food storage organs by dormant plant. It is the "thing" in which lily plant grow from. They are usually sold in vaccum pack.
When opened, you find that they looked somewhat similar to onions. It still have some bits of dirt attached to it. I soaked them for a while in water before peeling them into small pieces. Peel them into smaller pieces like below and remove brown ends of the bulb.

Actually, this is the first time that I have tried lily bulb. They tasted surprisingly nice. They are actually sweet, like thoroughly cooked onions, but without the pungent smell or taste. Lily bulb is also good for you. They moisten lungs and clear heat which is good for stopping cough and can cure sore throat.

Celery has a very tough surrounding fibre. Before cutting them up diagonally, you have to "peel" the outer skin off using a peeler first.

Wolfberries are usually used for soups, but I have used wolfberries here for its colour. I thought it will looked pretty with dash of red in the dish. :) Just soaked them in a bit of water to soften it and drained them for use.

Pork is optional in this stir-fry. You can omit it totally for a vegetarian version. I usually marinate the meat with a dash of soy sauce, pepper and corn starch. In the picture, you can see that there are fatty bits of meats. I trimed them off the meat for another dish and kept some of them for stir-frying vegetables. Strangly, pork fats or lards makes stir-fry vegetables tastier.

Because pork fats emits oil too, thus I would reduce the amount of cooking oil.


Heat up a non-stick deep-dish pan in high heat. Once heated up, add in the pork (not the oil first) to force out the fat.

When the meat started to brown, you can top up with a bit of oil and then add in the garlic.

As the raw meat tend to stick together, try to seperate them with the spactula.

I wanted to draw out the unique fragnance of wolfberries, thus added them in at this stage. Mix well.

After 10 seconds, add in the cut-up celery. Please note that the heat should always be maintain at medium high.

Mix the celery thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients for about 20 seconds. Once you can smell the fragnance of celery, add in the lily bud. Mix well again.

At this stage, the dish should be relatively dry even though some moisture will be drawn out of the celery. To give the stir-fry a richer aroma, add in the Chinese wine.

Note: The Chinese wine should be pour around the circumference of the pan so that the alcohol will evaporate more easily, leaving only the aroma to the dish. It should also be added just before you serve it.

Kids, do not try this at home.

After the Chinese wine evaporated, add in the condiments fast.

Up to this picture, I have a confession to make. I am not the cook that day. My brother who have worked in Suntec before was cooking it. I took the photos from the side. I may not be able to flip pan like he does, but I would usually cook them the layman way - which is to stir them with spectula.

After a few flips/stirs, serve immediately on plate.

Easy Chinese Stir-Fry - Lily Bulb, Celery with Meat!

The whole dish should take less than 7 mins to cook. How to tell whether this dish is successful or not? The celery should retained 70% of the crunch even though it had soften slightly. The lily bulb should also have a bit of crunch. Meat will be thoroughly cooked because it was placed in the pan first. Among every other bite, you will also be able to taste the sweet-tangy wolfberries! The vegetables will also have a bit of seafood flavour because of the oyster sauce we used.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy! I'll have to try this out! I'm sure my family will like this dish especially my mother because she really love eating veggies. Thank you for sharing this to all of us!

Easy Stir Fry