Thursday, February 11, 2010

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)
Print this recipe


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)