Easy Week Night Stirfry
When I was in college, while I was working, and now that I have a little one needing attention, the stir fry was my go-to meal. It’s easy, quick and full of tasty combinations. You can throw in whatever is handy and have a decent meal. Not only is it easy, but it’s healthy as well. If your vegetarian or vegan, you can use tofu instead of meat. And that’s what I love about it: endless creative possibilities.
Here are some tips I’ve found useful over the many years of cooking stir fry.
- Cut up the vegetables the night before, (or hours before depending on what fits with your schedule) with the exception of eggplant, green onion or anything else that will turn mushy and brown before use.
- If you are using eggplant, soak it in cold water and pat dry before cooking
- Experiment with different vegetables and flavors
- Sauce is everything (I’ve made flavorless sauces and excellent sauces. It makes a difference.)
Here’s a simple stir fry recipe that I’ve used many times before. You can add, delete or substitute any of the ingredients you like.
Broccoli (you can boil the broccoli before use if you want to speed up the cooking process or have softer broccoli)
Tofu (I like medium, but it breaks much easier. Firm tofu is traditionally used.)
¼ cup Sake or mirin
½ cup Lite Soy Sauce
I clove garlic
1 tsp ginger
Note: if using sake add about 1 tsp sugar
Oyster sauce to taste (I probably use about 1)
Add about 1 TBS sesame oil to a hot pan (I like to use a wok). Turn the heat down to med and add the chicken. Cook through and add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the carrot, broccoli and bell pepper and cook until almost done. Add the sauce and stir to coat vegetables and chicken. When sauce is bubbling, add cabbage and tofu. Stir being careful not to break up the tofu. Important: Taste the sauce! This is the time to adjust the flavors. Add whatever you think it needs more of (saltiness= soy sauce, sweetness= mirin or sugar, a bite= oyster sauce)
If you would like a thicker sauce, make a cornstarch and water mixture. I use about 1 TBS corn starch to ¼ cup water. Push the vegetables to one side and add the mixture slowly. Don’t pour it all in at once. Just do a little at a time so that you get the consistency exactly as you want it. Once the cabbage is softened, it’s time to eat.
I like to eat my stir fry with rice and miso. The miso can be made the night before and reheated. If using a programmable cooker such as this, it can be programmed in the morning to finished whenever you want to eat.
Here is my miso recipe
- heat 2 cups of water to almost boiling
- Add 1/3 tofu cake cubed into small pieces
- Reduce heat and add 3 TBS white miso paste (I have a special device to dissolve the miso directly into the pot. However, you can remove some of the hot water from the pan and place in a bowl. Add the miso and stir until dissolved. Add the water and miso mixture back into the pot of hot water)
- Add 1-2 tsp powdered dashi (they make low or non MSG ones now)
- Add sliced green onion
- Taste to make sure flavors are accurate
If you’re adventurous you can make your own dashi. It has to be used quickly and it makes a lot. You might be able to freeze it, but I’ve never tried. I’ve made my own dashi and I think it tastes so much better. If you’re going to go that route, just substitute the dashi for the water and don’t add any of the powdered stuff. Here are two “how-to” guides on making dashi if you’re interested: http://www.lafujimama.com/2010/01/how-to-make-dashi/ and http://www.justhungry.com/2003/11/japanese_basics.html
Have fun creating!