I’ll stir-fry you in my wok

29 Jun

When I was learning to cook, one of the first dishes I made with some regularity was stir-frys. Admittedly they were the pre-packaged Green Giant ones but still. It was a step up from purchasing take-out or already cooked meals from the supermarket. The vegetables might have already been cut for me and the sauce already measured but I still had to cut up the meat (this was back when I ate meat), make sure it was cooked, add the vegetables, the sauce…everything. It was totally my responsibility to figure out how to cook the thing. Ok, the directions on the back of the packaged helped. A bit. Actually, a lot. When you have no idea what you’re doing, those pre-packaged meals with explicit directions are something of a G-dsend. 

Image from Flickr. My cooking is not this good looking.

 

But as I became more experienced at cooking the pre-packaged foods, I realized that I might actually be able cook a stir-fry on my own. With fresh ingredients that I cut up myself and a sauce that I make myself (or pour from a bottle that I purchased)! I had the equipment–a stove, a frying pan/wok-type deal, a cutting board, a knife and all the edible ingredients so I figured I might as well give it a try. 

The first stir-fry that I made on my own was some sort of chicken and broccoli. I’m not even sure I used a real recipe; I just tried to copy what I got from the Chinese food take-out place. I used broccoli, carrots, chicken and sauce. Of course it didn’t taste exactly the same (because I think that the sauce Chinese food comes in is somehow laced with a special ingredient not sold in stores that makes it taste amazing) but if memory serves me correctly, it was pretty darn good. I’m fairly certain I made it with rice because, well, that’s how I got it from the take-out place (and Chef Wong’s, which, sadly, no longer exists). 

I have to admit that my stir-frys haven’t advanced much beyond that first one I made. I still use chicken or soy chicken substitutes, but I will experiment more now with vegetables and sauces.  But stir-frys still remain a staple in my family’s diet because they’re quick, easy and, depending on what you use, really inexpensive. Plus, they’re really pretty to look at especially when there’s a rainbow of red and yellow peppers, carrots, onions, broccoli and the occasional mushroom or two. If you are just learning how to cook, stir-frys are a really great way to start because, quite frankly, they’re really difficult to mess up (unless you undercook the meat or overcook the vegetables). There’s no special way you need to cut up the vegetables or meat, you can use as little or as much sauce as you want and you can use rice, couscous, pasta, or even quinoa as a complementary starch (more on quinoa another time). You can even add in some fruit! 

It’s really your call as to how you make your stir-fry, but here’s a basic stir-fry recipe (I apologize for the lack of pictures. I have no usable kitchen right now. My stove is in my living room.): 

Ingredients: 

  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb meat or meat substitute
  • assortment of vegetables, chopped (peppers, carrots, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, snow peas…whatever I find)
  • stir-fry sauce or marinade (I use either soy sauce or World Harbors brand; very rarely do I make my own. It’s one of my cheats)

Directions: 

  1. Heat approximately 1 tbsp oil in a pan
  2. While oil is heating, cut up meat
  3. Cook meat or meat substitute in pan until cooked through
  4. Remove meat from pan; drain any juices
  5. Add remaining oil and add vegetables
  6. Cook vegetables until they are desired tenderness (I prefer them cooked yet still crispy)
  7. Add meat back into pan with sauce or marinade
  8. Cook until heated through

Or you can do my even simpler and lazier version: Spray pan with cooking spray, add chopped vegetables and marinade. Cook until vegetables are desired tenderness. Serve with brown rice or plain couscous. Meat is cooked separately for husband and daughter because I do not eat it and I don’t want it poisoning my beloved vegetables. 

And because the song supplied this post’s title, here’s the video for the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic

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3 Responses to “I’ll stir-fry you in my wok”

  1. Rice Palette June 29, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    Great write-up!

    I’m also in the learning stages of my stir-fry career 🙂 I’ve come to a point where I have actually incorporated some fruit into my stir-fry too, it’s great to experiment with ingredients!

  2. Tes June 30, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    I really love stir fried veggies and meat, too. I will try your recipe soon. What a happy post! Thanks for sharing.

  3. rosina lock July 10, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    omg who mentioned vegetable oil?> you are cooking with the most lethal oil on the planet. sorry! im a writer and a researcher. vegetable oil is the worst oil you can cook with it is hydrogenated! anything with the word hydroganted is lethal!!
    People think fats make you fat?? Fats make you thin! If you are using the correct oils! Pleeeeez. do not use anything that is hydrogenated. it causes weight gain and illnesses. Research on all oils please! Unrefined coconut extra virgin olive oil, ghee, stir fry oils, walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil, not is all suitable for stir frys, but please do check up on your oils! If you want to be healthy, cook healthy. I spend literally hours trying to help others, with abs. no charge. Please look into all oils? And forget about weightwatchers, etc.etc. you will lose the weight but only put it on afterwards! Help yourself by researching on all oils!! i hope i have helped someone. From a very spiritual caring person – Rosina.

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