Friday, September 30, 2011

Andrea Chesman: Mastering the Art of Stir-Frying

Here is a basic recipe that can be adapted to ingredients at hand. In the demonstration I performed at the Mother Earth News Fair I used tofu as the protein and vegetable broth in the sauce. The firm vegetables were a combination of broccoli, carrots, and green beans and the oyster sauce was a vegetarian version sold as “stir-fry sauce.”

Basic Stir-Fry (Serves 4)

If I had my druthers, I’d probably make stir-fries on most nights. It is important to have all the vegetables prepped and all the ingredients assembled before you start cooking. And don’t forget to start cooking the rice first. I have an electric rice cooker, purchased years ago. It is an appliance that gets regular use and more than justified the expensive purchase price.

--1 pound boneless skinless chicken, beef, or pork, sliced into matchsticks, or 1 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed and cubed

--5 tablespoons soy sauce

--3 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce or vegetarian stir-fry sauce

--2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry

--1 tablespoon sugar

--2 teaspoons sesame oil

--1/4 teaspoon black pepper

--1 onion, halved and cut into slivers, or 1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced

--4 cups chopped or diced firm vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, carrots, baby corn, snap beans, snow peas or snap peas), corn kernels, or shelled peas

--8 cups slivered greens (cabbage, bok choy, broccoli raab, chard, escarole, kale)

--1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

--1 tablespoon cornstarch

--3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

--1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

--3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

--Hot cooked white rice

In a medium bowl, combine the meat or tofu, 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of the wine, sugar, sesame oil, and pepper and set aside to marinate.

2. To make the sauce, combine the broth, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon wine, and cornstarch. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

3. Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon the oil and heat until very hot. Add the meat or tofu and marinade and stir-fry, stirring constantly, until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. With a heat-proof rubber spatula, scrape out all the meat or tofu and sauce into a medium bowl and keep warm. Return the wok to high heat.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until very hot. Add the onion and firm vegetables and stir-fry until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cover, and let the vegetables steam until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the wok and add to the meat or tofu.

. Return the wok to high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leafy green vegetables and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and continue to stir-fry until limp, about 2 minutes more. Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the ginger and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Stir into the vegetables.

. Return the meat or tofu and vegetables to the wok and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce and pour into the wok. Stir-fry until the sauce is thickened and evenly coats the vegetables, 1 to 2 minutes.

. Serve immediately with the hot rice.

Recipe from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman © 2005, 2007. All rights reserved.

Andrea Chesman is a food writer and author of many cookbooks, including Serving Up The Harvest, Recipes from the Root Cellar, Mom’s Best One-Dish Suppers, and Pickles and Relishes and is coauthor of Mom’s Best Desserts and The Classic Zucchini Cookbook from Storey Publishing. She has also written and edited numerous additional cooking, food, and garden publications.

Andrea Chesman lives in a historic farmhouse in Ripton, Vermont, where the poet Robert Frost boarded. She lives with her husband and two sons. When she is not at work on a writing project, she edits and indexes cookbooks for numerous publishers.

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