|make your stomach happy||.||
you grow up in a Chinese household, stir-frying isn't so much a special
culinary treat so much as plain old cooking. Rare was the night when my
mom's wok wasn't heated up and sizzling away, and the range of tastes
and textures that came out of that wok was amazing. So it never ceases
to confuse me when occasionally, I'll hear someone say that they're
having stir-fry for dinner, like stir-fry is an actual defined dish.
First up is any meat. Trim off any fatty bits and discard, then cut up the remainder into bite-size pieces. You can cut the meat into thin slices, dice it into chunks (about ½" works well), chop it into skinny matchstick-like shreds -- the shape isn't terribly important, but the size should be small enough that the meat will cook through completely in just a few minutes in the wok, and be easy to eat without aid of a knife.
Once you've cut up the meat, prepare your marinade. There are two basic marinades that I use -- a dark one that relies on soy sauce for flavoring, and a light one that uses wine and salt. Both versions also include cornstarch to help the flavorings absorb better into the meat. I generally use the dark marinade for red meats like beef and pork, and the light marinade for seafood (although seafood is also good just brined with salt). Chicken can go either way, depending upon what other ingredients I'm pairing with it. If the chicken's going with stronger-flavored ingredients like bell peppers, I'll usually marinate it in soy sauce; if I'm stir-frying it up with milder ingredients, like bean sprouts or sugar snap peas, I'll stick with the light sauce.
I occasionally add a splash of rice wine vinegar for a little zip in the dark marinade; half-an egg white makes a good addition to the light marinade. Whatever sort of marinade you choose, you'll want to throw it into a bowl along with the meat, then give it all a good stir. Set the bowl aside for about 20 minutes or so to let the flavors penetrate.