Stir-fries are the cornerstone of many people following a paleo diet and are the quickest way I know to prepare a delicious, filling and nutricious meal.
You can use almost any kind of vegetable under the sun coupled with tender bite-sized pieces of meat (beef, chicken, pork, lamb…), fish (shrimps, scallops, squid,…) or even whole eggs. Then, only if you feel inclined to do so, you can go ahead and play with flavors and heat with things like herbs and spices. Ginger, garlic or chillies are often all that’s needed to bring out amazing flavors. In fact, being an Asian specialty, stir-fries notoriously promote the extensive use of ginger, which not only tastes great, but also has some anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits.
Stir-fries are usually served on a bed of rice, but we can easily go without the empty bolus of bland starch and go for more of the delicious meats and vegetables. Asian themed stir-fries will also often call for soy sauce and sesame oil. I think soy is unhealthy and I don’t consume it myself, but the small amount provided by the occasional use of soy sauce is probably not such a big deal if you’re otherwise healthy. As for sesame oil, well, it’s an oil extracted from a seed that is very high in omega-6 and, to add to the problem, those seeds are often toasted, as in toasted sesame oil. The resulting oil is very high in oxidized polyunsaturated omega-6 fats, not a good deal. Remember that our ancestors only ate nuts and seeds in very minimal amounts and that it takes a huge amount of sesame seeds to produce any appreciable quantity of its corresponding oil. Most of the recipes included in this stir-fry round up don’t call for any soy sauce or sesame oil and those that do only put them as an option for those who don’t mind the small indulgence.
Some interesting levels of flavor can be obtained by using cool and hot ingredients as well as sweet and salty ones in combination. A good example of that is the popular addition of chillies with fresh mint. The hot chillies and the cool and refreshing mint create a great contrast of flavors. You can even add fruits to your stir-fries to add sweetness to a normally savory dish. By all means, play around and have fun. Stir-fries are also a great way to use up leftover meat or vegetables.
Stir-fries are quick to prepare and the key is to have all your ingredients prepared, chopped-up and handy before doing any of the cooking. You can use a large pan, but a good wok is the traditional tool used for stir-fries as it conducts heat very fast and through the sides of the wok as well, which permits everything to cook almost evenly.
The next important element to a good and healthy stir-fry is to use a fat that’s very heat resistant. This is where conventional chefs often make mistakes. Tallow, clarified butter and coconut oil are the best choices. I wouldn’t use poultry fat, lard or unclarified butter because they are much less heat resistant. Also, even though stir-frying is a high-heat cooking method and the recommended fats are heat resistant, you shouldn’t overdo it because those fats aren’t immune and can still burn and smoke when too much heat is applied to them.
Once you’ve got all your ingredients ready and cut into bite-sized pieces, you’re ready to heat your wok to medium-high. Once the wok is quite hot, put a good chuck of your chosen fat and let it melt while making sure to coat the whole wok with it.
The meat goes in first and as soon as there is food in the wok the trick is to stir constantly, it’s a STIR-fry after all. Once the meat is cooked, it’s better to remove it from the wok so it doesn’t overcook while you cook the vegetables.
Make sure the wok is still hot and add more fat if necessary. If you use onions, garlic and/or ginger, cook them before any vegetable. Start with the onions and once they’re almost soft add the ginger and garlic for a few seconds until you start smelling the aroma. At this point, start cooking the vegetables, by batch, starting with the toughest ones, while making sure to stir all along.
Fresh herbs are usually added near the end of the cooking process and the meat is added back in the wok so it can mix with all the flavors. Some fresh bone broth can also be added near the end and stir-fries are also delicious with crumbled nuts added at the end.
Now without further ado, here is a roundup of 10 delicious paleo stir-fries recipes. I’ve tried to use variety and I’ve included some unusual blends like the coconut curry stir-fry, the cabbage stir-fry and the beef heart stir-fry. Enjoy and make them often!
Note that the seasoning instruction was omitted for brevity purposes, but you can always season your stir-fries with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
They can seem like an unlikely combination, but tomatoes tend to always go well with eggs. This is why omelets are so delicious with homemade salsa. This is a great egg stir-fry that is super cheap because the ingredients used are very basic. Great to prepare when you’re on the go, but are bored by your regular pan-fried eggs.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl and stir-fry in a hot wok with some cooking fat for a minute. Thoroughly remove the stir-fried eggs from the wok with a spatula, reheat the wok and stir-fry the tomatoes for 2 minutes with more cooking fat. Return the eggs to the wok, add the green onions and stir-fry for another 30 seconds while mixing everything well. Serve while hot.
This stir-fry is really a mix between a traditional curry and a stir-fry. A curry-like sauce prepared with full-fat coconut milk, curry powder and ginger is prepared in advanced and added to stir-fried chicken and broccoli. The orange color that the curry powder gives to the final dish is really appealing. Garnish with some coconut flakes to put the coconut accent to the forefront even more.
Prepare the sauce by mixing together the coconut milk, curry powder and grated ginger. Set aside. Stir-fry the chicken in a hot wok. Remove the chicken from the wok, set aside, reheat the wok and stir-fry the onion with more cooking fat for about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli and stir-fry another 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the wok, add the coconut curry sauce and the spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilted and the whole preparation is hot. Optionally garnish with some coconut flakes.
This is a strongly flavored stir-fry that makes perfect use of a beef heart. If your relatives are still resistant to taste heart, they’ll probably fall for this dish because you can’t tell the presence of heart by looking at the end-result. The heat from the dish will also make people forget that they are eating a heart. A great way to cook with this often forgotten organ, heart is very tender and has a texture not much unlike a very tender steak. The addition of fresh lime juice cuts a bit into the heat of this dish and brings freshness.
Cut your heart into bite-sized cubes after having removed the fat and connective tissues. Heat your wok and stir-fry the heart in cooking fat. Remove the heart from the wok and set aside. Reheat the wok and stir-fry the zucchini with more fat for 1 minute or 2. Add the ginger, lime juice, cayenne pepper and return the heart cubes to the wok. Stir-fry for another minute to blend all the flavors together and bring out the flavors of the ginger and cayenne pepper. Serve garnished with sliced chilli.
This stir-fry is a little bit different in that it features prominently the cabbage and also makes use of stir-fried apple. This is a great example of a sweeter stir-fry, which is also mixed with fresh and crunchy almonds. The apple cider vinegar bring a nice and tangy touch to it and add to the apple undertone of the dish. Eat it as a meal or serve as a side dish to your main course.
Chop the cabbage finely and dry with a towel. Core and slice the apple. Stir-fry the apple for a minute in clarified butter or coconut oil until it just barely starts to soften. Remove the apple from the wok and set aside. Reheat the wok and stir-fry the onion for another minute with a little bit more cooking fat. Add the cabbage and stir-fry for another 3 minutes. Return the apple slices, add the thyme and cider vinegar and cover to steam for a minute. Add the almonds and stir well. Serve and enjoy!
Duck and oranges are a classic blend, but it’s rarely brought about in the form of a stir-fry. This one is perfect to prepare when you want to enjoy your roasted duck differently. You can of course substitute the duck for chicken. The bok choy brings a nice accent to the whole dish, but feel free to use any green-leafy vegetable instead.
Pick the meat from the roasted duck and cut the skin in thin slices for garnish at the end. Stir-fry the onion for 3 minutes with some cooking fat. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for another minute or two. Add the orange juice, zest and stock and bring to a boil. Add the duck to the wok and let the whole preparation simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove the meat from the wok, add the bok choy and cook until just wilted. Serve the duck on a bed of bok choy and garnish with orange segments and crispy duck skin.
This nice blend of mint, pine nuts and optional Parmesan stir-fried with tender chicken and mushrooms has something really special and I think this stir-fry can easily become a classic in your house.
Process the mint, pine nuts and Parmesan, if using, in a food processor and slowly integrate the olive oil. Heat the wok and stir-fry the chicken with your chosen fat. Remove the chicken from the wok, reheat and stir-fry the onion for 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the wok and stir in the mint pesto. Cook for another 3 minutes, until everything is hot.
Cilantro and pork go very well together and we tend to forget about that herb so it’s put on the forefront in here. The lime juice added near the end also support very well the taste of the cilantro.
Mix the garlic, ginger, half the cilantro and olive oil in a bowl, add the pork and put in the refrigerator to marinate for an hour or two. Heat your wok and stir-fry the pork. Remove the pork, add more cooking fat and stir-fry the onions for about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for another 3 minutes, until soft. Return the pork to the wok with the lime juice and the other half cilantro leaves and cook for another minute while tossing to blend the flavors.
This stir-fry uses the strong flavors of chillies and the refreshing flavor of basil to create a nice contrast of tastes. Beef is a good choice of meat for such a strong-flavored stir-fry.
Mix the chopped chillies, garlic and fish sauce in a bowl and add the beef. Put in the refrigerator to marinate for about 2 hours. Heat some fat in the wok, stir-fry the beef as per the general technique and remove from the wok. Add more fat and stir-fry the asparagus. Add 1/4 cup water or stock when the asparagus is almost cooked. Return the beef to the wok, add the basil and cook for another minute. Garnish the finished dish with slices of chilli.
This stir-fry recipe is a bit special because it’s served on a bed of fresh citrus fruits, which makes it a blend between a stir-fry and a salad. Some citrus juice is also included when cooking the beef, which gives it a nice and tangy taste.
As per the general technique, stir-fry the beef with tallow or clarified butter. Remove the beef from the wok, make sure the wok regains its temperature, add more cooking fat and stir-fry the onion, ginger and garlic for about 3 minutes. Return the beef to the wok and add the orange and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and add the bunch of spinach. Cook until just wilted. Serve on a bed of citrus with the segmented lemon and orange.
This is a stir-fry where you marinate the shrimps overnight in a spicy and tangy marinade. The result is simply amazing. Those crispy and spicy shrimps will be delicious with or without their shell, but try to get them deveined.
Mix all the ingredients other than the shrimps together in a bowl, add the shrimps and cover over night. When ready to cook, remove the shrimps from the marinade and stir-fry them until crispy with clarified butter or coconut oil. Once ready, add the marinade to the wok and bring to a boil while tossing.
P.S. Be sure to check out the Paleo Recipe Book. It’s a cookbook I’ve created to help you cook the best food for your health. It contains over 370 Paleo recipes and covers absolutely everything you’ll ever need.