Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stir Fry Crazy

Stir frys make quick, tasty and healthy dinners.  I'm a big fan of making meals that you can constantly change up, so that you don't get bored and you can use whatever ingredients in your fridge that particular week (this is also evidenced by my soup/stew post back in November).  Here are some tips on a good stir fry:

1)  Start a base by heating up oil (on medium heat) in a wok or a deep pan.  I like canola or peanut for Asian style stir fry, or olive oil w/ butter for a lighter taste. 

2)  Add veggies.  Anything!  Spinach, onion (white or red), broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn, julienne carrots, peapods, bok choy, etc etc.  Like I mentioned in my soup/stew post, I often buy pre-cut veggies at Whole Foods and just throw them in.  Saves a lot of time and sometimes they think of veggie combos you wouldn't.  Toss with the oil, add a few pinches of salt, and let the veggies sweat for a few.

3)  Add a protein.  Chicken (buy tenderloins so you can just throw in w/o needing to cut), shrimp (pre-peeled and even pre-cooked makes it faster), tofu, beef (pepper steak works well), etc. 

4)  Make a quick sauce.  Can make separately and pour in, or just start throwing stuff in (I prefer the latter!) Here are a couple options:
  • For an Asian-inspired stir fry, I like to combine fresh ginger (I buy pre-chopped), fresh garlic, sesame seed oil, soy sauce and/or tamari sauce (richer soy), fish sauce (don't have to use if it scares you, but it's delicious in cooking), and some sort of chili sauce (if you like a kick).  If you like a sweeter taste, use hoisin sauce and nix the fish and chili sauce.  There are lots of pre-made Asian stir fry sauces you can buy, and it makes the dish even easier, but I think they taste kind of "fake" and much prefer to use separate ingredients.  The best part is that you can't really go wrong - just don't add too much soy (it's easy to) because that taste can overpower.  Add a little, taste, and then add more if necessary.  Simmer uncovered for a bit.
  • For a lighter lemon wine sauce, remember you used olive oil/butter as the base for this and that's a lot of the sauce already.  When your protein is nearly cooked, add 1/4-1/2 cup of dry white wine, let it cook down a bit, and then add lemon juice (a couple of tbsp).  Salt, thyme and any kind of lemon herb you may have all the spice you'll need.  I also add a little more butter at this point (who doesn't like more butter?) because the butter you originally added as the base has cooked down a lot and I want that taste to be fresh and my protein to feel nice and moist.  Simmer uncovered for a few, but don't keep on heat too long.  This is a great sauce for shrimp, crab, etc. 
5)  Toss with rice or Asian noodles (for the Asian stir fry) or angel hair pasta (for the wine sauce) or eat plain if you're anti-carb (yuck). 

You can get this done in 30 mins, esp if you go the pre-diced route on protein/veggies.  If you're really short on time or not confident about making a sauce, just start with canola or olive oil, simmer some white onions and garlic for a few, add the veggies, protein, salt, cover and let simmer for a while, and be done.  I do this all the time for just plain veggies. 

Go crazy.


  1. I also like throwing in some peanuts in my stir fry. :-)