Follow these tips to make a fast stir-fry style curry
- Cut the beef/lamb across the grain into strips of even thickness (approx. 7.5 x 1 x 1cm).
- Brown to improve colour and flavour. Brown it in small batches as you do a stir-fry. It takes a few minutes extra but is essential for tenderness, flavour and the visual appeal of the dish.
- Remove each batch of meat once it is browned.
- Add flavourings, stock, sauces or coconut milk etc and bring the liquid/mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Return the meat to the pan only when the cooking liquid is at simmering point.
- Once the meat has been added to the liquid it must not be allowed to boil vigorously, or the result will be tough, chewy meat.
- Pay close attention at the cooking stage - check the dish often, adjust the heat and stir. Make sure the liquid doesn’t get too low, or it will be a stir-fry rather than a wet style dish.
- If you want the dish to have a sauce consistency cook without the lid so the liquid evaporates and concentrates the flavours. If you want more liquid leave the lid on for some of the cooking time. Don’t let the mixture boil.
- Adjust seasoning at the end of the cooking time – with high reduction sauces the flavours intensify so adjust flavours or season when dish is completed and you are about to serve it.
- The time required to cook the dish may vary. It will depend on factors such as the size of meat and the flavourings, but it should be completed and ready to serve within 30 minutes.
Temperature control … possibly the most important factor
Adjust the heat as the dish cooks to keep it at a simmer. A ‘simmer’ that’s closer to a boil will result in tough meat. You also run the risk of the sauce reducing too quickly and burning as the result of boiling rather than simmering.
If the meat is tender but the sauce is not quite thick enough remove the meat (keep the meat covered to keep it moist) and raise the heat to thicken the sauce. When it’s at the right consistency turn off the heat and return the meat to the pan, stir through to coat meat with sauce and serve.
Cook the curry in a wok
Use your wok rather than a deep-sided saucepan for the best result, sauté style pans with their wider sloping sides are also good.