Oil Free Stir Fry

Oil Free Stir Fry

It’s easy to stir fry without oil: just use water instead! This is how I make my oil free stir fry.

What to put in an oil free stir fry

The veg

When I make a stir fry I use whatever vegetables I have in. Most veggies work: spring onions, regular onions, carrots, leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash, mushrooms, peppers, green beans, bean sprouts, radish, sweetcorn….. the list is long.

The protein

The vegetables make up the bulk of the meal, but to add protein I usually include some form of legume. I find frozen soya beans and peas to be a good addition to a stir fry. Tofu is nice too. My favourite tofu is made by ‘The Tofoo Company’. When using tofu I add it towards the end of cooking, and heat it through, rather than frying it. I’m not a big fan of crispy, fried tofu because I find it a bit chewy and greasy.

The carbs

In addition to the veg and legumes, I add some form of wholegrain to my oil free stir fry. Sometimes I add cooked grains, sometimes I add cooked noodles. You can add any variety of cooked grain really. I like quinoa, brown rice, freekeh or sorghum. In the main picture I have used a mixture of quinoa, buckwheat and bulgar wheat (see here for cooking instructions). If I use noodles I usually go for wholewheat ones, though buckwheat noodles are lovely, as are edamame noodles. You could also use brown rice noodles.

The sauce

As for the sauce, I like to keep it simple. I splash ingredients into the pan rather than making a sauce and pouring it in. For a simple stir fry sauce you want to include the following flavours: salt, sweet, tangy and unami.

Soy sauce (or liquid aminos if you are yeast intolerant) has salt and unami flavours.

For the sweet and tang I often use coconut aminos. Coconut aminos is made from coconut vinegar, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, salt, garlic and onion, and is often used as a soya free substitute for soy sauce. I find the flavour somewhere between balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. As an alternative you can use a splash of rice wine vinegar plus a pinch of coconut sugar.

The healthy fats

Finally I like to top my oil free stir fry with nuts. These add whole food fats and tons of flavour. Roasted peanuts are lovely on a stir fry (for instructions on how to roast nuts, see here), or sometimes I use walnuts.

How to cook an oil free stir fry

Start by chopping your vegetables depending on their cooking time. For example, onions need to be finely sliced whilst butternut squash can be left more chunky. You need to give the stir fry your full attention once you start cooking so it’s best to prep everything first. Next heat your pan to high. When you stir fry without oil, it’s easier if you have a good non stick pan. Add your chopped veg. I add most of my veg all at once, with the exception of very fast cooking varieties (such a pak choy, mushrooms, radish, sugar snaps…etc) which I add a few minutes before serving.

Cook on high, keeping the veggies moving constantly, and as they start to stick add a little water. Continue to cook like this, stirring all the time and adding water as the pan dries out, until the vegetables are cooked.

Once your veg is cooked, add the sauce, the legumes and the wholegrains. Serve topped with nuts.

Gluten, wheat free: use Tamari sauce instead of soya sauce; serve with suitable wholegrains / noodles

Nut free: omit nuts or replace with seeds

Soya free: omit soy sauce or replace with a sprinkle of salt; steer clear of frozen soya beans and tofu

Yeast free: replace soy sauce with liquid aminos; replace coconut aminos with lemon juice

This is a vegan recipe

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Oil Free Stir Fry
Servings: 1
  • loads fresh vegetables (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 inch ginger (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • legumes: such as chopped firm tofu, frozen soya beans, frozen peas
  • frozen sweetcorn (optional)
  • cooked noodles or grains
  • nuts
  1. Heat a non stick wok, or large non stick pan, to high. Add your ginger, garlic and chopped vegetables. Keep stirring all the time, and as the veg starts to stick, add a little water.

  2. Continue to cook in this way, stirring constantly and adding water as the pan dries out, until all the veg is cooked to your liking.

  3. Add Chinese 5 spice, soy sauce and coconut aminos.

  4. Add the legumes and frozen sweetcorn (if using). Cook for a couple of minutes to heat through.

  5. Stir in your cooked noodles or grains. Top with chopped nuts and serve immediately.

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