Help, All I Know How to Make is Spaghetti: Stir-fry

The end of semester is looming, and many of us are starting to feel the heat. Assessment tasks are all that’s occupying the space in your head. Social activities make way for group study sessions. Site-blocking browser extensions are frantically installed and enabled with the strictest of settings. No time to cook! Not with UberEats at your fingertips! A wayward thought comes at the cost of prime mental real estate.  

At least, that’s what most of us would imagine to be the ideal student’s mindset, what with Elon Musk roaming the earth as we do.

If you’re looking to deviate from your ultra-streamlined diet of coffee and takeout, might I suggest a stir-fry? Save yourself the round trips to Spice Alley, not to mention the $13 or so per meal. This fortnight’s recipe is ludicrously cheap, delicious, and colourful. Its nutritional make-up is also worthy of mention – it’s one of stir-frying and Chinese food’s claims to fame, as their mix of vegetables, meat, and sauces strike a balance between macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) without skimping on flavour and flair.

You don’t need a wok to be able to make a stir-fry, though I do recommend investing in one, as I foresee stir-fries fixing itself into your culinary repertoire. The wok is the pillar of Chinese food, dating as far back as 2000 years ago, according to some scholars. Its curved shape allows you to cook meat and vegetables simultaneously despite the difference in necessary cook-times. Meat fries at the bottom where it is hottest, while vegetables cook up around the relatively cooler sides of the wok. This also means that less oil would be used, as you can easily push the food up out of the wok and onto your serving plate, draining out excess oil.

for four serves
15 minutes prep time, 15 minutes cook time


Stir-fries are wonderfully flexible.

1.     Pick your base:

a.     500g of Hokkien noodles – follow the instructions on the packet to prepare these; it should only be a matter of covering them in hot water for however long

b.     500g of cooked rice – ideally, it would be one or two days old, making it easier to fry (fresh rice can be quite sticky). Using rice effectively renders your stir-fry a fried rice. Well done.

2.     Pick your protein:

a.     500g of beef, chicken breast, or lamb strips

b.     500g of firm tofu

3.     Prepare your sauce:

a.     1 tbsp of vegetable or peanut oil

b.     1 tbsp of soy sauce

c.     3 tbsp of hoisin sauce

4.     Prepare your vegetables (from here on it’s entirely up to you and what’s left in your fridge):

a.     1 red onion, finely sliced

b.     2 cloves of garlic, crushed

c.     200g of sugar snap peas, trimmed and de-strung

d.     150g of sweet corn spears (also known as baby corn), chopped into 2cm pieces

e.     1 red capsicum, sliced into strips

f.      1 carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds


1.     Heat half of the oil in a large wok over high heat. Add your protein and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until just browned (less time if you’re using tofu).

2.     Add in the rest of the oil along with all the vegetables, stirring, for 4 minutes or until just tender. Move whatever needs to be cooked longer to the base of the wok, and whatever is nearing tenderness up to the sides.

3.     Finally, add in the soy sauce and hoisin sauce, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until well combined.

This recipe is so simple it can hardly be called even that. Drop by the Woolworths in Central Park or Haymarket after class or study, pick up whatever tickles your fancy, go home, and throw it all together. Time and money are luxuries you need not go on wasting.

Natasha Hau studies a combined Bachelors in Communications and International Studies, plus a Diploma in Languages. She likes grammar a lot, which explains why she's still studying German.