Stir-fries are a quick, convenient way to cook. Stir-fries are also a great way to put together a meal low in fat and high in nutrition. Most stir-fries have a much larger proportion of vegetables than meat, usually about two-thirds plant-based foods and one-third meat, poultry, or fish, the proportion advised for healthful eating and a healthy weight.

Associated with East Asian cuisines, stir-fries come in countless varieties. Japanese versions often contain Mirin, a delicate rice cooking wine that can be found in Asian markets or the ethnic or "specialty foods" sections of local supermarkets. The keys to a successful stir-fry are noted in the instructions below: Use a very high heat, avoid crowding the pan by cooking ingredients in batches, if necessary, and start with the vegetables that take the longest to cook.

Classic Stir-Fry

Makes 4 servings. (3 cups)


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  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. minced scallion
  • 2 Tbsp. Mirin (Japanese cooking rice wine), or Japanese sake, or broth plus
  • 1 pinch sugar, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup thinly-sliced chicken, meat or fish
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2-3 Tbsp. peanut or canola oil, divided
  • 1 cup cut-up green vegetable, such as string beans, snow peas, broccoli
  • 1 cup cut-up red or orange vegetable, such as bell pepper, carrot, red onion
  • 1 cup cut-up light-colored vegetable, such as onion, bok choy, zucchini
  • 3 cups steamed rice (preferably brown)


  • In a wide, shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, half of the sugar and Mirin with the scallion and ginger. Mix in chicken (or other meat) and marinate during other preparations (10-30 minutes). Drain and pat dry of excess liquid with paper towels. (Discard used marinade, which should never be reused as a sauce; it may contain potentially harmful bacteria that could lead to food-borne illness.)
  • For the sauce, mix together the remaining soy sauce, Mirin (or broth) and sugar with the cornstarch until well blended. Set aside.
  • Heat pan until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil, or enough to stir-fry meat, and heat until very hot. Add meat and stir-fry until it turns color. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Use remaining oil, as needed, to stir-fry vegetables in batches, starting with those that take the longest to become tender-crisp, like carrots, string beans and broccoli. Don't overcrowd the pan. If necessary, cook vegetables in batches and transfer cooked vegetables to an oven preheated to 200 degrees. When all the vegetables are tender-crisp, mix in everything that was removed from the pan in the earlier stages.
  • Stir sauce and add to the pan, stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and serve immediately with steamed rice.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
362 calories,
10 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat),
48 g. carbohydrate,
18 g. protein,
5 g. dietary fiber,
646 mg. sodium.

Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Bread/Starch, 2 Vegetable, 2 Fat, 2 Lean-Meat