Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recipe of the Week

Stir fry is a favorite of mine for a handful reasons. First of all, it's a simple one dish meal - always a plus. Second, it's healthy - at least it should be. And third, you can make up the ingredients as you go. Generally I grab whatever meat I have thawed and then rummage through the vegetable drawer of the fridge. There are always odds and ends needing to be eaten. My stir fry is simple, but very good. The key is not ingredients (though they help), but rather the temperature at which everything is cooked. Ever been to one of those teppanyaki restaurants where those crazy Japanese guys prepare your meal right in front of you? Not only is the experience mesmerizing (flying knives, flames, food being chopped at the speed of light, etc.), but the freshly cooked meal they then place in front of you tastes like it took much greater effort to prepare than it actually did. One thing I can guarantee is that they don't keep the heat on low or even medium when they're throwing (literally) together your meal. Oh no. That iron grill is HOT HOT HOT! And so is the pan I cook my stir fry in! Sure, you can guarantee a greasy cooking surface when all is said and done, but THAT is the key to a good stir fry. Here's my basic recipe.

Stir Fry

  • 1-1 1/2 pounds meat: I either use chicken, steak (london broil is great but any cut will do) or pork, thinly sliced.
  • 4-5 cups vegetables: carrots, broccoli, onion, bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage, peas, asparagus, garlic, anything! Other possible additions include: bean sprouts, water chestnuts and those miniature corn on the cobs you can find near the pickles in the grocery store.
  • Oil: peanut, canola or olive - they all work great.
  • Rice: long grain or jasmine or a combination of the two.
  • Seasonings: I use garlic salt and soy sauce - that's all!

First, start your rice. I use long grain rice, which takes 25-30 minutes to cook. Last night I discovered I didn't have enough, so I ended up doing half long grain and half jasmine, which worked fine. Even though the directions say the rice takes about 20 minutes, I find the that longer it simmers in the pan, the fluffier and lighter it gets. So my rice often sits on LOW LOW heat for up to 40 minutes, and it turns out perfect. I can't stand it when my rice isn't entirely cooked through or hasn't absorbed all the water.

Chop and slice everything PRIOR to beginning the cooking process. Stir frying is fast, and you need to have everything ready to go before you turn the heat up. Here's how I prepare everything:

  • Meat - thin strips
  • Carrots, onions, and peppers - julienne strips
  • Zucchini - half moon slices
  • Cabbage, mushrooms, asparagus and broccoli - chopped
  • Garlic - minced
I add the peas last, straight out of the freezer bag. I never measure anything. I just use however much of each ingredient seems right (or whatever I need to finish off) until I have 4-5 cups.

Place a large frying or stir fry pan over medium/high heat. My stove has a heating range of 1-10. I usually have it between 6 and 7. After 3-4 minutes, add oil to the pan (almost enough to coat the bottom, but not quite). Wait another couple minutes for the oil to heat up, then throw the meat in. Chances are, you'll see immediate splattering, but this means you've got a good temp going. Brown the meat - and I mean really brown it! That's what gives it such great flavor. Generally I cook the meat no longer than 5 minutes, even if it isn't cooked all the way through. You don't want to dry it out, and it will eventually be making its way back to the pan, so don't worry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or garlic salt, then transfer to a plate, reserving any meat juices in pan. At this point you may need to add a little more oil, just depending on how much the meat absorbed. Use your own judgement. While the pan it still hot, throw the veggies in. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then turn to low/medium (between 3 and 4) and cover. Let veggies simmer another 5-10 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Add meat back to pan, mix well, cover and turn off heat, and let sit an additional 3-5 minutes. At this point it's probably more common to drizzle the stir fry with soy sauce (or any other sauce you want to use). Since Neil and I like different quantities, we wait until we've served ourselves to add it. Serve over rice, obviously.

Truly, this is such an easy and delicious dish to make! And amazingly enough, it needs very little seasoning. The soy sauce is obviously flavorful, but even just the combination of meat and veggies being cooked a high temperature creates a naturally great flavor. I think we have stir fry once a week and we never get tired of it. I much prefer steak over chicken or pork, but any meat makes this dish amazing! Hope you enjoy.


Rebekah said...

that looks so good! I'm right there with you. i LOVE LOVE LOVE stir fry, it's one of my faves too!!!!

thanks for your kind words. they really meant a lot to me and I appreciate them more than you know!!!! i'm so glad we got the chance to connect!

Libby said...

I am a fan of stir-fry too! I love it!! I also love the layout on your blog and I think you have a darling family. Both Ryan & Chloe are both so cute!

Carrie said...

That looks amazing!!

Mama/Gma Jill said...

Yum yum yum!!! It's all so gorgeous too! Such good ideas you have! You're such a wonderful cook!

The bread was were the cookies! It seemed like you were actually here in a way. Thanks so much, honey.

Love love love,
Mama/Gma Jill

Jodi said...

YUM! I love stir fry and this looks great! I hope you continue with the Recipes of the Week. I'm loving them so far! :)

stephschmidt said...

We love stir fry here, too :) In fact, that's what we had for dinner last night! Must have just been that kind of a day :)

The Mason's said...

Adam just got home from a 10 day run in Ohio, and I made this for him! One word: AWESOME!!! Thanks for sharing!!

Wendy said...

We also love stir fry. In fact, maybe that's what we'll have for dinner tonight. :)

Camille said...

I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself because I actually know how to make something that you, Miss Betty Crocker, have cooked -- we make stir fry very often too and make it the same way you described, except that often I also add ramen noodles to it (they cook very fast) because my kids love it that way and I can trick them into eating the veggies in it too unless they're patient enough to pull out all of the green beans and peas and then sneaky enough to hide them somewhere. :)

Nells-Bells said...

definitely going to try this!! love the piano music on your blog, BTW.