06 May 2016

A Beginner's Guide to Stir Fries

You don't need a wok (no one buys those anymore, right?), fancy flavored oils, or complicated produce to make a tasty Asian-flavored dish, and when you're starving and impatient, you can whip up a healthy stir fry so fast you'll be ashamed you ever considered ordering greasy take-out. Keep these things handy and you'll always be ready to eat a tasty meal.


Rice:
jasmine, white long-grain, white short-grain, and brown short-grain are the quickest cooking. You can make a lot and freeze portions in baggies for later use.  Just dump the frozen rice directly into a serving bowl and microwave a couple of minutes; the ice crystals that formed while freezing act to keep the rice moist and fluffed up like it's fresh. 

OR 

Noodles: rice vermicelli, udon, soba, ramen, or angel hair pasta all work. I especially like noodles with the Vietnamese and nutty sauces, below.

Then, heat up some cooking oil of your choice in a frying pan, and get to work: 

1. Proteins: you can have some cooked meat cut up into bite-sized pieces and frozen in baggies (I do this with leftover pork roast or chicken when I don't have immediate plans), baked tofu (learn how to bake your own here), or scramble some eggs and then set aside while you cook the veggies. Little mung beans or chick peas are also great in stir fries, I think.  Or skip the protein altogether--you're not actually going ot die if you don't eat loads of it for every meal.

2. Hard veggies: these will have to go into the frying pan first, as they need a bit more time to cook. Keep them crisp-tender, though, which saves on cooking time and keeps your meal from being a pile of mush. 
  • onion
  • carrot
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • kale, mustard greens
  • celery
  • pea pods
  • asparagus

3. Soft veggies: add these at the end and cook just until wilted.
  • bok choy, Swiss chard, spinach
  • thinly sliced bell pepper
  • mushrooms
  • corn
  • peas
  • summer squash, zucchini
  • tomatoes
  • water chesnuts

4. Some sauces: dump these in at the last minute, stir, and pour the whole concoction over rice. These will all keep in the fridge for at least a week. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or crushed peanuts if you want to feel fancy. 

Zesty: 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 3 tablespoons Sriracha, 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Mild: 2 -3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1⁄4 cup brown sugar, 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 1⁄2 cup soy sauce, 1⁄4 cup cider vinegar, 1⁄2 cup water, 1 1⁄2 cups vegetable broth

Nutty: 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon Sriracha, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, Zest and juice of 1/2 lime

Vietnamese inspired: 1 diced serrano pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons fish sauce, 6 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil