Easy dinner recipes: Stir-fried shrimp, beef or chicken in an hour or less

When I'm looking for a fast dinner solution, I often turn to the wok. Food cooks so quickly over the high heat, flavors building as each ingredient is tossed in with the mix. Check out these quick ideas using shrimp, chicken and beef.

Yang Chow slippery shrimp: This slightly sweet, slightly spicy shrimp dish was introduced at the original Yang Chow, which opened in Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles in 1977. Start to finish, it's ready in only 25 minutes.


Ginger soy chicken wings: These Asian-inspired chicken wings are a tempting take on the classic finger food. The crunchy wings are deep-fried first before they're added to a wok, glazed in a sticky-sweet soy reduction that gets its tang from fresh ginger. No dipping sauce necessary.

Shaking beef salad: A salad version of the Vietnamese entree, this dish from Gingergrass in Silver Lake works perfectly as a one-dish meal combining the hot, sauteed beef over a cool watercress salad. Strips of filet mignon are marinated in a traditional combination of garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar. Shortly before serving, whisk together a light, ginger-garlic dressing to toss with a salad of crisp watercress and thinly sliced red onion. The beef is quickly sauteed in a wok or skillet until caramelized and aromatic, then arranged on the chilled salad and topped with chopped green onions.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at


Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 4

1 pound large shrimp
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons water
2 cups oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger root
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon tomato sauce or ketchup
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
1½ tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, sliced

1. Peel, devein and butterfly the shrimp.

2. In a bowl, mix the shrimp with one-quarter cup cornstarch to completely coat the shrimp.

3. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water in a bowl and set aside.

4. Pour the oil into a skillet or wok and heat over medium heat until hot. Add the shrimp and deep-fry until golden, about 45 seconds.

5. Remove the shrimp and drain the oil from the wok, leaving 1 tablespoon for stir-frying. Reheat the wok. Add the garlic, ginger and cayenne. Stir for a few seconds, then add the tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, sugar, salt, one-quarter cup water and the reserved cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until the sauce is thick.

6. Add the shrimp; toss until covered with sauce. Add the green onions, stir, turn out onto a platter and serve.

Each serving: 302 calories; 19 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 18 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 168 mg. cholesterol; 508 mg. sodium.


Total time: About 1 hour | Serves 4 to 6 appetizer portions

Note: Adapted from Beacon restaurant.


1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

1. Combine the chicken broth, mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and ginger in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat and reserve.


Vegetable oil for frying
12 whole chicken wings (about 2 pounds), separated at the joints and wing tips removed (save for stock or another use)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup soy-ginger glaze
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1. Fill a large, heavy-bottom saucepan with enough oil to come 3 inches up the side. Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees.

2. Season the wings with the salt and pepper, then dredge with the cornstarch. Fry the wings, a few at a time, until lightly golden and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the wings on a rack.

3. When all the wings are fried, heat a wok or heavy saute pan over high heat. Add the reserved ginger-soy sauce and bring to a boil, then add the wings, stirring to coat. Cook the wings in the sauce, stirring constantly, until the sauce reduces enough that it coats the wings in a thick, syrupy glaze.

4. Remove from the heat and toss the wings with the sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Each of 6 servings: 355 calories; 18 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 22 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 51 mg. cholesterol; 1,377 mg. sodium.


Total time: 35 minutes, plus marinating time | Servings: 2

Note: From Gingergrass in Silver Lake. This makes slightly more dressing than is needed for the recipe; it will keep refrigerated for 1 week.


1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger powder, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, grapeseed oil and black pepper. Set aside. Makes slightly more than one-half cup.


8 ounces filet mignon, cut into 1-inch cubes
1½ tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1½ teaspoons fish sauce
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons diced yellow onions
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 bunch watercress, washed and dried
1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion
Scant 1 tablespoon dressing
3 green onions, chopped

1. In a nonreactive container, toss the beef with 1½ teaspoons of the minced garlic, the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

2. Heat a large saute pan or wok over high heat and add the oil. Add the beef and sear until browned on all sides, then remove and drain on paper towels.

3. Add the remaining 1½ tablespoons minced garlic and diced onions and saute for 30 seconds, until aromatic.

4. Return the beef to the pan and add the oyster sauce, shaking the pan to distribute the flavors, then remove from the heat.

5. In a medium bowl, toss the watercress with the red onions and a scant tablespoon of the dressing (enough to just coat the greens). Arrange the salad on a plate and top with the cooked beef. Garnish with the chopped green onions; serve immediately.

Each serving: 379 calories; 26 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 27 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 71 mg. cholesterol; 969 mg. sodium.