The stir-fry is the essential quick and healthy dish. While its roots remain firmly Asian, this method of cooking has been adopted around the globe precisely because of its flexibility and simplicity. It uses only a small amount of oil, packs in a heap of veggies, and can accommodate a broad range of ingredients. A good stir-fry is a meal in itself, but if you want to add rice, just watch the carbohydrate count (and go for brown rice, or soba or udon noodles, for a healthier choice).
Note that a lot of the work in stir-frying is in the preparation. After you cut up your ingredients and mix your sauce, the cooking will go very fast. Plus, once you master the basics, you’ll be able to improvise like a pro.
|Stir-Fried Chicken With Red|
Peppers and Broccoli
Stir-Fried Shrimp With Snow
Peas and Carrots
Orange Hoisin Sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Make the meat (or fish or tofu)
Great stir-fry candidates include chicken, shellfish (especially scallops and shrimp), beef, pork, extra-firm tofu, and tempeh. The marinade should combine an acid, like soy sauce or rice vinegar (or both), with a thickener like cornstarch or arrowroot. The thickener is used to “velvet” the protein, keeping it tender. The acid breaks down some of the protein fibers in meat so it won’t become tough. With shellfish, however, you can skip the marinade and just coat lightly with flour. After marinating, heat oil in the pan, and lay in the protein. Using (preferably) a long-handled, flat-bottomed wooden spoon, stir quickly and constantly until cooked through. (For tofu, which is a bit delicate, you may want to use tongs.) Then remove it to a plate on the side while you prepare the other ingredients.
1. Cut protein into bite-sized pieces.
2. Marinate it for at least 15 minutes in a bowl or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
3. Place your wok or skillet on the stove. (A wok is better because its shape is designed for this kind of cooking; a cheap one works just fine.) Dribble in a teaspoon or two of canola oil, peanut oil, or a vegetable oil blend. Do not use olive oil, which can burn. Heat the oil on medium-high or high. You’ll know it’s ready if you splash a few drops of water onto the pan and they dance on the surface.
Next: Spice it up with aromatics