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Old 01-11-2021, 08:10 AM   #1
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Frying Vegetables: Why they put the onions first?

I have a couple of questions.


I'm making some Asian foods lately (most of them involve fried vegetables) and everybody on YouTube is frying the dry onions first.

1) By making that, I noticed that the onions are actually cooking faster for example than the carrots and I'm ending up burning them every time. So I can't understand why should I put them first in the pan.

2) I've seen professionals on YouTube cooking them all together but on the stove (gas) while I'm cooking on an electrical stove, I believe this has a difference so I decided to cook each vegetable separately.

3) It feels like the taste of the vegetables is ruined, I believe because I cook them for too long. By the way, I'm frying them until they change color, even the carrots until they become brown.

A friend of mine (he works in an Asian restaurant), told me that vegetables should not be cooked for too long, just put them all together in
the pan for like 30-60 seconds. But he cooks on a gas stove...

Thank you for your time!

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Old 01-11-2021, 08:25 AM   #2
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Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

Depending on your pan.. a wok shape can have the cooked vegies pushed up and away from the higher heat used to cook the new ones added.

Also the size of your vegies for asian style dishes should be small or thin so that really all you are doing is heating them thru, leaving the crunch.
If you want to parboil large pieces then just fry up a little bit is also a possibility. and a lot of extra work.

I agree that my onions often start burning while then adding new vegies. I will often remove them to a plate and add them back in later.

another reason for adding things one at a time is that if all added at the same time you lower the heat too much and none will keep their crunch - just get sorta steamed.

Sounds like you are definitely frying them too long. As said earlier, slice thinner and just 'stir-fry' them quickly. They don't need to be browned. But if brown is how you want your vegies then, like I've said, remove the cooked ones when done before adding the next.

Asian cooking often has a sauce on it to pull it all together, so don't worry about the 'browning'.

ps. electric heat is different but many people prefer it. I like gas and am lucky to be able to have it. But you can still get fantastic meals with what you have - Don't let that deter you!
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:28 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by babaliaris View Post
I have a couple of questions.

I'm making some Asian foods lately (most of them involve fried vegetables) and everybody on YouTube is frying the dry onions first.

1) By making that, I noticed that the onions are actually cooking faster for example than the carrots and I'm ending up burning them every time. So I can't understand why should I put them first in the pan.

2) I've seen professionals on YouTube cooking them all together but on the stove (gas) while I'm cooking on an electrical stove, I believe this has a difference so I decided to cook each vegetable separately.

3) It feels like the taste of the vegetables is ruined, I believe because I cook them for too long. By the way, I'm frying them until they change color, even the carrots until they become brown.

A friend of mine (he works in an Asian restaurant), told me that vegetables should not be cooked for too long, just put them all together in the pan for like 30-60 seconds. But he cooks on a gas stove...

Thank you for your time!
First, I'll tell you that I don't generally watch random YouTubers (or read random bloggers or Pinterest pins) because I don't know their skill level. I choose particular sites that I trust. I suggest you look up Chef John and Kenji López-Alt on YouTube - both are chefs and good teachers.

Second, I've never seen anyone "dry fry" anything. When I'm stir-frying, I heat the oil first, drop in a couple slices of ginger and a crushed clove of garlic to flavor the oil and then remove them.

Now add the meat or poultry and let them sit on one side for a couple of minutes, then remove. Don't crowd the pan.

Now add the onions and give them a few minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a few minutes.

Now push the vegetables to the sides and pour the sauce into the center. Stir it till it thickens, stir in the vegetables and then add the meat back. Stir until all is cooked and well covered with the sauce.

It does sound like you're overcooking the vegetables. The whole thing should be finished in about 15 minutes. For that reason, it's important to have all of your ingredients ready to go in before you begin.
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Old 01-11-2021, 08:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragnlaw View Post
Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

Depending on your pan.. a wok shape can have the cooked vegies pushed up and away from the higher heat used to cook the new ones added.

Also the size of your vegies for asian style dishes should be small or thin so that really all you are doing is heating them thru, leaving the crunch.
If you want to parboil large pieces then just fry up a little bit is also a possibility. and a lot of extra work.

I agree that my onions often start burning while then adding new vegies. I will often remove them to a plate and add them back in later.

another reason for adding things one at a time is that if all added at the same time you lower the heat too much and none will keep their crunch - just get sorta steamed.

Sounds like you are definitely frying them too long. As said earlier, slice thinner and just 'stir-fry' them quickly. They don't need to be browned. But if brown is how you want your vegies then, like I've said, remove the cooked ones when done before adding the next.

Asian cooking often has a sauce on it to pull it all together, so don't worry about the 'browning'.

ps. electric heat is different but many people prefer it. I like gas and am lucky to be able to have it. But you can still get fantastic meals with what you have - Don't let that deter you!
Thank you! I'll have this in mind next time (tomorrow )


Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
First, I'll tell you that I don't generally watch random YouTubers (or read random bloggers or Pinterest pins) because I don't know their skill level. I choose particular sites that I trust. I suggest you look up Chef John and Kenji López-Alt on YouTube - both are chefs and good teachers.

Second, I've never seen anyone "dry fry" anything. When I'm stir-frying, I heat the oil first, drop in a couple slices of ginger and a crushed clove of garlic to flavor the oil and then remove them.

Now add the meat or poultry and let them sit on one side for a couple of minutes, then remove. Don't crowd the pan.

Now add the onions and give them a few minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a few minutes.

Now push the vegetables to the sides and pour the sauce into the center. Stir it till it thickens, stir in the vegetables and then add the meat back. Stir until all is cooked and well covered with the sauce.

It does sound like you're overcooking the vegetables. The whole thing should be finished in about 15 minutes. For that reason, it's important to have all of your ingredients ready to go in before you begin.
15 minutes? I burn them in 2! Do you mean fry them in very low heat? Because I'm using the maximum possible heat I can get from my electrical stove.

To tell you the truth, most people on YouTube, fry their vegetables in a lot of heat but I've seen one particular chef (from Greece) who was making a greek dish bean soup. He was frying the onions in extremely low heat for 15 minutes (like you said) and he said that this is the best way to caramelize the onions (he also used sugar for some reason).

But this takes so much time just for the vegetables...

Off-topic: Just of curiosity, "on YouTube" or "at YouTube"??? :p
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:20 AM   #5
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If you're burning your food in 2 minutes, clearly the heat is too high.

Caramelizing onions is very different from stir-frying. I usually let caramelized onions go for about an hour. There's no need to add sugar - if you cook them low and slow enough, it brings out the natural sugars.
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
If you're burning your food in 2 minutes, clearly the heat is too high.

Caramelizing onions is very different from stir-frying. I usually let caramelized onions go for about an hour. There's no need to add sugar - if you cook them low and slow enough, it brings out the natural sugars.
Then, the next time I'll try to stir-fry all vegies together for about 30 seconds and another time I'll try to cook the vegetables in medium heat each one individually, and see the difference and what I prefer.

By the way, it is called stir fry because you have to move the vegies continuously so they won't burn?
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:19 AM   #7
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The 15 minutes was total cooking time for all ingredients to be completed, not just for fring the onions. The high heat quickly cooks each part, which is separate stir-fried until just barely cooked. Proteins are in thin strips, or 1/2 inch dice, and cooked in hot oil until very lightly browned, and then removed to a bowl, to be added in later. Carrots are peeled, washed, and bias cut into thin slices, giving them more surface area to cook fast. The same is true for celery, and bok choy. Bean sprouts are added last. Onions are often left in large strips and stir-fried with the ginger and garlic to add flavor to the oil, which will flavor the entire preparation.

Stir frying is called stir frying as the ingredients are continuously stirred while frying. This keeps any one side from burning while cooking all sides evenly. The sauce is made in the same wok/pan that the foods were cooked in so as to capture the flavor of any fond. Then, veggies, proteins, and bean sprouts are added back, and all is combined, and removed from the heat.

Once you learn to properly create a stir-fried meal, you can start enhancing the flavors with different sauces, meat marinades, velveting, and the use of other flavorings, such as plumb, hoisin, peanut, pineapple, and other sauces. And then there are the noodles, each used for varying textures, and flavors, And the, umami packed ingredients. In short, you are just getting started. Enjoy the learning process.

I have had wonderful stir fry cooked in a matter of minutes in a very big wok over a blow torch, as street food in both Hong Kong, and in the Philippines. It can be as fast and simple as you want, or labor, and time intensive, depending on what you are making.

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Old 01-11-2021, 10:24 AM   #8
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Thank you! Well, I'm quite new to Asian cooking, so it will probably take a while until I learn all of the things you mentioned. I'll do my best to learn!!!
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Old 01-11-2021, 10:30 AM   #9
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Thank you! Well, I'm quite new to Asian cooking, so it will probably take a while until I learn all of the things you mentioned. I'll do my best to learn!!!
This is a fun YouTube channel - this American guy is married to a Chinese woman and they live there. He describes what he's doing very clearly. I watch this for the techniques rather than specific recipes.
https://youtu.be/a-Yu8qOAEYQ
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:03 AM   #10
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You're also asking questions about different "styles" of cooking. So it is hard to answer. One answer doesn't go for onions - depends on what the end result you want is.

I must say that not all my asian recipes for a stir fry use onions per se. They are usually with scallions, so the whites may be added earlier, while the greens are added at the end to serve.

It doesn't hurt to watch a lot of video's on Youtube. Just remember what GG has said, they don't all necessarily know what they are doing. But it's great to see the different techniques.

ps, 1 inch slabs of carrot is not going to cook in seconds.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:18 AM   #11
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I blanch carrots before adding them to stir frys. Or I sautee the onion/garlic/ginger/whatever and pull it from the heat while I cook the other veggies. You also may need to add more oil to your pan.

I agree with GotGarlic, I LOVE Alt Kenji Lopez! I have worked in hospitality for my whole life and can't imagine working in one of his restaurants!
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:49 AM   #12
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By the way, this is how it looked like when I finished (fried Rice with eggs and veggies):



I did the following mistakes:

1) I added the beaten eggs at the end on top of the Rice.
My friend (who is a cook) told me that this causes the eggs to stick to the rice and they don't cook properly.

2) I also used cabbage which at least in my opinion spoiled the flavor in general. Cabbage usually goes well with fried beef and red tomatoes sauce, this is why I had the idea to add it here as well, though the recipe didn't mention it.

3) I definitely overcooked the veggies.

The taste was bearable, but I ate it with a little force too.

By the way, if I use wine instead of soy sauce will it work?
Also, should I add the wine with the veggies so it will vaporize or add it
directly with the rice? I'm not sure if the rice absorbs it, this will be bad in taste...
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Old 01-11-2021, 01:40 PM   #13
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Eggs should have been the first thing you cook and set aside to cut into strips. they then are just mixed in at the very end.

Why would you replace the soy sauce with wine? No flavour comparison there.

Fried Rice often has left over vegies from another dish and are already cooked. Just added to the hot rice to heat thru.

Again, this is Fried Rice where everything is already cooked (aside from the eggs) - no cabbage.

Depends on what the recipe says as to when to add the soy sauce.

If the recipe doesn't call for cbbage and you want to add some - use just a small amount, very well shredded. But you are not making Spring Rolls - there you would use cabbage.

Are you trying to create new and amazing recipes? If so, may I suggest you practice following the original recipe until you know and have it down pat. Then play with various ingredients.

LOL... you should be asking your friend the cook what to do before not after. and maybe you won't have to force it down.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:10 PM   #14
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Yes I have that in general, I like to randomly change the recipes and see what happens. One time I maid spaghetti with fried onions. I didn't have tomatoes to make a sause so I said myself "hey, you fry onions in order to make a tomato sauce, so what will be the difference if you skip the rest of the ingredients?"
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:34 PM   #15
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...
said myself "hey, you fry onions in order to make a tomato sauce, so what will be the difference if you skip the rest of the ingredients?"
You have pasta with fried onions... actually sounds delish!
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:17 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
First, I'll tell you that I don't generally watch random YouTubers (or read random bloggers or Pinterest pins) because I don't know their skill level. I choose particular sites that I trust. I suggest you look up Chef John and Kenji López-Alt on YouTube - both are chefs and good teachers.

Second, I've never seen anyone "dry fry" anything. When I'm stir-frying, I heat the oil first, drop in a couple slices of ginger and a crushed clove of garlic to flavor the oil and then remove them.

Now add the meat or poultry and let them sit on one side for a couple of minutes, then remove. Don't crowd the pan.

Now add the onions and give them a few minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a few minutes.

Now push the vegetables to the sides and pour the sauce into the center. Stir it till it thickens, stir in the vegetables and then add the meat back. Stir until all is cooked and well covered with the sauce.

It does sound like you're overcooking the vegetables. The whole thing should be finished in about 15 minutes. For that reason, it's important to have all of your ingredients ready to go in before you begin.

Yes! Everything Got Garlic said. There is a pretty standard way to go about stir frying and GG descibed it very well.

I suspect you were using a bad recipe.
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:53 AM   #17
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Yes! Everything Got Garlic said. There is a pretty standard way to go about stir frying and GG descibed it very well.

I suspect you were using a bad recipe.
What exactly is dry frying? I searched it but still don't get it.
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Old 01-12-2021, 11:22 AM   #18
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What exactly is dry frying? I searched it but still don't get it.
There's technically no such thing. Frying, by definition, requires oil. Its a technique by which you cook food in oil.
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Old 01-12-2021, 11:31 AM   #19
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There's technically no such thing. Frying, by definition, requires oil. It's a technique by which you cook food in oil.
So basically dry frying would be frying the veggies without oil?
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Old 01-12-2021, 11:38 AM   #20
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So basically dry frying would be frying the veggies without oil?
There is no such thing as dry frying.

You can try to cook vegetables without any oil or water, dry, in a pan, but they will probably burn.
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