A Simple Stir-fry in 3 Steps
February 13, 2017 • Posted in Cook, Mindful, San-J Family,
My favorite way to cook, hands down, is stir-frying. It's my go-to when I'm cooking to share and to impress. It's also practical for the times I'm just cooking for one, because it's as simple as chopping some veggies and heating them on the stove.
Stir-fry is an easy way to serve a meal full of flavor and nutrition without spending much time or money. Endless ingredient combinations offer the flexibility of working with what's available in your fridge and with what's in season.
Sometimes I like to mix my own stir-fry sauce from scratch, but I always keep a variety of sauces in my pantry to make a quick stir-fry taste like I put a lot of time into it. I like San-J Asian Cooking Sauces for their rich, authentic flavors and the selection of real-food ingredients. There's nothing artificial and each of the ingredients are items I can pronounce and can find in the grocery store. It's also reassuring to know that these sauces are Non-GMO and gluten-free. These sauces make it so easy to create a flavorful stir-fry in very little time, with minimal effort.
Stir-fry is cooked over high heat for a short time - just long enough to cut the rawness of the veggies. This retains their color, texture, and nutritional value. This is entirely different from mushy casserole veggies and if you have any picky eaters in the house, they may actually prefer this approach to eating veggies. It worked in this household!
Don't I need a wok?
You may be wondering if you need to invest in a wok, but it's not necessary. As long as you have a large skillet, you're set. I've been using an extra-large stainless steel skillet from a thrift store for the past seven years until receiving a wok as a gift. So if you're lucky enough to own a wok, it's certainly worth the space it takes up! A wok is specially designed to allow more control over how much heat each ingredient receives.
If you're new to stir-frying or just need some guidance, try using this recipe template to make 4 servings.
1 POUND OF PROTEIN
4 CUPS OF VEGGIES
3/4 CUP OF SAUCE
Cooking with a template is so great because it allows for cooking in the moment rather than restricting you to the rigidity of a recipe. Translation: You can blast your favorite Kishi Bashi album and sing every word without missing a beat because you're not tied down to your Pinterest recipe board.
Think about what ingredients you'd like to use. I like to choose items that add variety into my weekly meal plan, while incorporating what I find on special when grocery shopping. I also choose based on what can fit into other meals. For instance, I love using the stems of broccoli cut into matchsticks for stir-fry because they're full of flavor and nutrition. You can either add the broccoli florets into your stir-fry or save them for another meal. Snap peas, carrots, and bell peppers offer a variety of textures to stir-fry. I like to occasionally mix some thick greens into the wok in the last minute or so - like kale, collard greens, or bok choy. If you happen to have fresh herbs and chopped nuts on hand, use them as garnish. Stir-fry doesn't need garnishes, but if you're looking for some ways to use up that last bit of cilantro and green onion before it goes bad, this is your ticket.
When I'm using beef, pork, or chicken as my protein, I usually try to find them pre-sliced to save time. Alternatively, when I'm using tofu, I make sure to drain and press it dry ahead of time.
How to stir-fry
Once you've gathered your ingredients and are ready to cook, start by chopping your veggies and slicing your protein if these items are not already in bite-sized pieces. A pound of protein and four cups of veggies will make four servings. Choose your sauce and measure 3/4 cup. Once you get the hang of this, you'll be able to skip the measuring and will be a pro at eye-balling the amount of veggies and sauce based on your taste preference.
Add some oil to your skillet or wok and turn the heat up to medium-high. I use grapeseed oil because of its neutral flavor and its high smoke point. Add your protein and allow all edges to brown. Next, add your chopped vegetables and allow them to cook along with the protein, stirring constantly. After about a minute, add the sauce, and allow all ingredients to cook together. Sometimes I'll serve with rice or noodles if I want to add more variation to the meal.
Serve up your colorful stir-fry and enjoy the feeling of being full without the food coma! The key is to avoid getting burnt out with the same ingredients each time, because the combinations are infinite. So don't stop at just one stir-fry. Try a new one each week.
For more stir-fry combinations, check out our info-graphic below and these recipe ideas.