Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Stir Fry

I am so grateful to Beth Fish Reads for hosting this fun weekly meme.  I don't always have something to contribute, but I always find good foodie reading material to help me celebrate the weekend.

This week I thought I would share my stir fry experimentations.  Actually this is typical of many meals that I prepare.  I always start off with a recipe and follow it to the letter.  Then the next time I prepare the meal I modify the seasonings to adjust to our particular tastes.  The more familiar I become with the ingredients, the less I measure and the more I rely on sight and feel.  This is most definitely the evolution of my new-found love of stir fry.

This summer I wanted to find some quick, easy and healthy recipes that I could add to my dinner repertoire when school started.  I checked out several Stir Fry and Wok cookbooks from the library, and wrote down several of Martin Yan recipes.  In analyzing the recipes and preparing a few of them, I noticed what seemed to be a pattern.  
  1. Start with a protein (meat - chicken - shrimp etc) and cook through. I usually spray the pan with "high heat" Pam and then add about a teaspoon of peanut oil for flavor.
  2. Remove the protein from the wok and then add aromatic vegetables, most typically garlic, scallions, and ginger.  Again, I usually cook these in about another teaspoon of peanut oil.
  3. After a brief one minute stir fry add to the pan other vegetables such as:  broccoli - asparagus - mushrooms - zucchini - water chestnuts - fresh bean sprouts - etc.
  4. Once these vegetables have cooked through - again only about 2 minutes or so - return the meat to the pan and warm.
  5. Now create the sauce in a separate bowl - which most often consists of:  1/2 cup of stock (either chicken or beef depending on the meat of choice) - about 1 tablespoon of corn starch - and soy sauce to taste.  Creativity can really take over here, as there are a variety of other Asian tastes that you can add to liven up the flavor:  hot sauce - oyster sauce - hoisin sauce - terriyaki sauce - sesame oil - etc
  6. Once sauce ingredients have been thoroughly mixed - pour into the wok or skillet and cook until thickened.
  7. Serve with rice (I prefer Jasmine rice - but brown rice would be a healthy alternative)
This basic process can yield a variety of different dishes - all of which can be prepared in about 30 minutes or less (I always start cooking the rice first and most often the rice and stir fry are both complete at about the same time).  To be honest, this is the only night of the week that I can get the entire family to eat vegetables - so it is a win-win meal for everyone.  I always try to cook extras so that I have a meal to take to school the next day - but sometimes the troops devour the entire dish in a single night.


  1. That's the way I cook too! I follow the recipe to the T the first time and then modify it to our likes. Great post!

  2. I like to think I cook like this too, but the reality is that I rarely follow a recipe to the T. I can't help myself, I must play.

  3. I do the same thing, Molly; try a recipe, like it, adapt it as I go along. Every so often, however, I find I have strayed so far from the original that I find the recipe and try it anew, to find I have really changed it substantially. Not a bad thing, as I am a good cook, just interesting. We are have pepper steak tonight - a stir fry! yea!

    I hope your life has settled down a bit, Molly, and your mom is stabilized.

  4. THIS is how I like to cook. Just give me the general directions and let me do my own choices. I've already copied this down and intend to try it right away. I like to eat stir-fry but I've never felt confident about what I'm doing. Your method makes sense. Thanks for doing all the research and sharing it with us.

  5. I tend to play too, especially with stir fry. That is probably in my top five comfort food! You are making me hungry...

  6. Thats a good basic approach and you can adapt depending on what you have on hand. i like that way of cooking. Thanks.

  7. Stir fry is one of my toss in whatever is available meals. I don't think I've made it the same way twice. Which is why I can't write down my recipe!

  8. one thing I love about a stir-fry is that it is a great way to use up whatever veggies you might have in the veggie bin.

  9. thanks for the detailed directions for this..I'm always looking for ways to make cooking fun and good!

  10. Hi Molly, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I too was a SAHM and am now a high school English teacher. Your recipe sounds good--my family doesn't eat meat, so I might substitute marinated tofu.

  11. We love stir fry so I will try this one next time; thanks for the details.

  12. I've used my tofu in black bean sauce recipe (on my sidebar) the same way...keep the sauce, change the protein (cubed chicken is good)and add vegetables or not.


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