Simple Supper: Stir Fry

Stir Fry is an easy and delicious meal that doesn’t need to take much time to prepare. And, if you have a rice cooker, this meal is even more of a cinch. (If you don’t have a rice cooker, you might want to seriously consider getting one. You will have rice cooked to perfection each and every time you plug it in!)

Several years ago I came across an article in Real Simple magazine that gave five different recipes for stir fry sauces. I’ve used it ever since. The result is that I always have a stir fry that tastes good and there is always variety so we never have to eat the same stir fry again and again.


(Photo: Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry with Curry-Coconut Sauce)

Here is my step-by-step plan for cooking stir fry:

STIR FRY
(Heather)
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1. Put rice in the rice cooker — our family likes brown rice but any kind will do. If you don’t have a rice cooker, start cooking rice on the stove.

2. Cut up vegetables — there are so many combinations to choose from. I always include an onion and often have broccoli and carrots with that. Other ideas are celery, cabbage, bok choy, green pepper, colored peppers, and zucchini or summer squash. Choose the vegetable combination that your family will enjoy.

3. Cut up the meat —  I usually use two boneless, skinless chicken breasts for our family of six. A pound of round steak, or a few boneless pork chops are also nice options. I cut my meat quite thin (1/4-inch or so). I sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper on my meat.

4. Stir fry the meat. In a large skillet or wok, heat some canola oil (I prefer canola because it is tasteless). Stir fry the meat until done and transfer to a plate, cover with foil and leave until later.

5. Stir fry your vegetables. Add a bit more canola oil to the pan and stir fry the vegetables, adjusting the heat as necessary, or adding more oil, to keep the vegetables from scorching.

6. Make the sauce. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare one of the sauces listed below. (I make about 2-3 recipes of sauce for our family of 6.) Fresh ginger is such an important ingredient in so many Asian recipes. I buy mine, scrub it and then place it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When I need freshly grated ginger I simple grate it straight from the freezer (skin and all).

7. Combine everything. When your rice is ready, your vegetables cooked, and your sauce finished, add the meat back to the pan along with the vegetables and heat through. Either plate your rice and stir fry and then top with the sauce, or add the sauce to the stir fry and then serve.

HOT AND SOUR SAUCE
(Real Simple Magazine)

3/4 c. chicken broth or water
5 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, combine broth, soy sauce, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and cornstarch, stirring until cornstarch dissolves. Place a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour into a bowl.

CANTONESE LIGHT SAUCE
(Real Simple Magazine)

1/2 c. chicken broth or water
1 Tbsp. dry white wine (I used rice vinegar)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced green onions (white parts only)
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger

In a small bowl, combine broth, white wine, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, salt and cornstarch, stirring until cornstarch dissolves. Place a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add green onions and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour into a bowl.

CURRY-COCONUT SAUCE
(Real Simple Magazine)

1 1/4 c. canned light coconut milk
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder (I used Thai Red Curry Paste which comes in a jar)
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil (if you have it)

In a small bowl, combine coconut milk, soy sauce, sugar and salt. Place a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add red pepper flakes, lemon zest, minced garlic and curry powder or paste and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the coconut milk mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add chopped fresh basil. Pour into a bowl.

LEMON-HERB SAUCE
(Real Simple Magazine)

1/4 c. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add fresh basil and cilantro.

GARLICKY HOISIN SAUCE
(Real Simple Magazine)

1/4 c. Hoisin sauce
1/3 c. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. minced green onions (white parts only)
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, combine Hoisin sauce, water, soy sauce and sugar. Place a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add green onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the Hoisin mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour into a bowl.

(Photo: Chicken and Pepper Stir Fry with Cantonese Light Sauce)

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International Cuisine: Chinese Main Dishes

We love to order take-out every once in awhile. These recipes made me realize that I should make Chinese at home more often!

SZECHWAN SHRIMP
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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4 Tb. water
2 Tb. ketchup
1 Tb. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tb. peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 c. sliced green onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces peeled, deviened shrimp with tails

In a bowl, stir together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in green onions and garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in shrimp, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in sauce. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened and shrimp is fully cooked – about 5-7 minutes.

ASIAN BEEF with PEA PODS
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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3 Tb. soy sauce
2 Tb. rice wine vinegar
1 Tb. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tb. peanut oil
2 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. beef round steak, cut into thin strips
8 oz. pea pods

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. Stir-fry ginger and garlic for 30 seconds. Add the steak and stir-fry for 2 min. or until evenly browned. Add the snow peas and stir-fry for an additional 3 min. Add the soy sauce mixture, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer until the sauce is thick. Serve immediately.

SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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1 (16 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
2 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 3/4 c. water
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. distilled white vinegar
2 drops orange food color
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
2 1/4 c. self-rising flour
2 Tb. vegetable oil
2 Tb. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 egg
2 c. water
1 quart vegetable or canola oil for frying

In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.

Combine flour, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and egg. Add 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups water gradually to make a thick batter. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add chicken pieces, and stir until chicken is well coated.

Heat oil in skillet, fryer or wok to 360 degrees F. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil until golden. Remove chicken, and drain on paper towels.

When ready to serve, layer green peppers, pineapple chunks, and cooked chicken pieces on a platter. Pour hot sweet and sour sauce over top. Serve with steamed rice if desired.

Market Fresh: Chinese Vegetables

We decided that we would do several posts in preparation for the Chinese New Year! So this week will be an international focus on Chinese food with Friday switching to Valentine’s Day for two. We hope you enjoy!

Today, I’m going to share a few recipes for vegetarian and vegetable-focused Chinese dishes. We invited guests over to enjoy our Chinese feast and this Vegetable Lo-Mein was a huge hit!

VEGETABLE LO-MEIN
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6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tb. fresh ginger, minced
1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil 
1 Tb. sesame seeds 
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. chicken or vegetable stock 
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. honey
1/2 tsp. hot chili oil
2 Tb. dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 pound linguini
1 c. bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)

Combine the garlic, ginger, oil, sesame seeds, peanut butter, soy sauce, stock, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Stir well to fully combine.

Cook the linguine as directed until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 3/4 of the sauce. Add the sprouts, red and yellow bell peppers, and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.

CHINESE BROCCOLI
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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2 bunches broccoli, cut into florets
2 Tb. white sugar
1 Tb. cornstarch
2 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. rice vinegar
1 Tb. sesame oil
3 Tb. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sesame seeds (opt.)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook uncovered until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, ginger, and garlic together in a small saucepan over medium heat until thickened and no longer cloudy, 4 to 6 minutes. Toss the broccoli in the sauce, pour into serving dish, sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired, and serve.

EGG ROLLS
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1/2 lb. pork sausage
1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
1/4 head of napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 c. carrot, shredded
1/2 c. bean sprouts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb. Hoisen Sauce
2 Tb. Smooth Peanut butter
1 package Egg Roll wrappers

Brown sausage. Add vegetables and garlic and saute until slightly cooked but still crunchy. Add sauce and peanut butter. Divide mixture into egg roll wrappers – about 2 Tb./wrapper.

To Roll: Place filling lengthwise towards end closest to you. Fold sides in and slowly roll. Seal edge with water.

Fry in a deep fryer until golden brown or bake in oven at 400 for about 15 minutes or until golden. Serve with Sweet & Sour and enjoy!