Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stir Fry Freedom

The Recipe: Stir Fry
  • My step-dad helped me through this one. He has a general formula in his head for making stir fry but varies the ingredients and spices for fun every time. So here is the written form of his general formula.
  • Note: we used a cephalon wok to even out the heat. 
  • If you don't have much time, try beef and broccoli over white rice. Ready in 25-30 min. I chose the longer version with a prep time of 50-55 min.
The Ingredients:

Basic ingredients: some form of rice, some form of meat, some form of vegetables, soy sauce/tamari, ginger, and garlic.

Rice: You'll want about a cup of cooked rice per person. The ratio is 1 c. uncooked rice takes 2 c. water to make (plus a little extra to avoid burning) and makes 3 c. cooked rice. Brown rice takes 45 min. to make and white rice takes 20 min. to make. Since we were adding lots of vegetables and needed lots of prep time, we started the brown rice then prepped and stir-fried, and were done with each at about the same time.

Meat: My step-dad's favorite meat to use is pork, but I like beef better, which is what I used this time. Chicken and shrimp also go well.

Veggies: I used broccoli, baby carrots, orange bell peppers, canned baby corn, snow peas, and water chestnuts. I would've used mushrooms but we didn't have any in the house.

Sauce: I used gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce because it often has gluten in it. As for the spices, fresh ginger root and fresh garlic are the best, but pastes and powders will also work. We used ginger paste and minced garlic from a jar this time. Those three ingredients are a must have and can work okay alone for a college student or a young adult starting out with few spices in an apartment. But we spiced it up a bit more by throwing in pinches of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili garlic paste. Note on the turmeric: it's orange and stains, so don't get any on your clothes and clean it up from the counter immediately. I think if my step-dad could choose any of these extras as a fourth sauce staple, he would choose the turmeric. Note on the garlic paste: I like mild but tasty and a tsp. of the garlic paste was just right for me, so if you like spicy add more.

The Directions:

1. Start water boiling for the rice, then add the rice and simmer on low for 45 minutes.

2. Cut up as many vegetables as you would like. We used a whole pepper, one broccoli stalk, a small can of water chestnuts, a can of baby corn, a large handful of baby carrots, and perhaps a cupish of snow peas. Note on organization: You will need to start cooking the more substantive vegetables first so that they cook longer. If you are putting your veggies together in a large bowl, put the substantive ones on top so you can spoon them out first.

3. Cut up meat. First cut off fat on the side by picking up the slab of meat and pulling the fat string off to the side while sliding the knife in between the fat and the meat. Cut the meat into long strips, each about 1/4 inch thick, then turn the strips and cut them into 1 inch squares.

4. With a little less than 20 minutes left to go on the rice, add a tbsp. or two of olive oil into the wok. Add to this about a tbsp. of ginger paste and a tbsp. of minced garlic, but if you aren't adding more spices later, compensate by adding more ginger and garlic. Turn heat up to med-high and saute for a couple min.

5. Put meat into the wok and turn the heat up a little. Add about a tsp. of each of the spices mentioned above or whatever spices you choose. Stir meat around until it's about 75% done (it will cook more later) and put it in a bowl.

6. Add a little water to the wok and cook the substantive vegetables first (such as broccoli), then add the other vegetables (such as pease and carrots) minus the canned vegetables. Cook to about 75% of your desired consistency (I prefer soft vegetables but my step-dad prefers more raw) and then set aside in a bowl.

7. Turn the heat down to med. and cover the bottom of the wok with tamari. Then take a 1/4 cup measuring cup, fill halfway with water, spoon in about a tbsp. corn starch (or flour if you can eat gluten), and stir so there aren't any lumps. Add to tamari and stir. Add more spices if you didn't get the chance earlier.

8. Turn heat a little higher and put veggies back into the wok. Add the canned veggies and stir for a couple min.

9. Add meat and stir for a few minutes until everything is cooked to your desire.

10. Serve the stir-fry over rice, and have extra tamari and hot sauce on hand for people to adjust the sauce to their taste, although the sauce should be splendid without it.

The Sizzling Sight

Wokcha lookin at?

Stare at me. I'm beautiful.

My Take on the Bake
It was delicious! I'm so happy I learned how to stir fry because now I can make many different dinners from just one recipe, and they are easily made gluten-free! The recipe is very flexible - I can be adventurous and try out different mixes of spices, AND it won't be the end of the world if I mix up the order of things or put in the wrong amounts. I think every 18 year old should exercise their newfound freedom by voting and learning how to stir fry. Stir-frying is so liberating!

My only note on flavor: my step-dad might've added more than a tsp. of turmeric, and while I like the flavor, I would use a lot less of it because it tends to over-power other flavors.

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