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The Art of Stir Fry

04/21/2013

Stir fry meals are relatively fast, inexpensive, and versatile. While I was living on my own I had stir fry of one variety or another almost every night, mostly because it was an easy way to cook for just one. Now, my boyfriend really likes my Teriyaki stir fry like a mad-man! And my parents like my spaghetti stir fry.

Ultimately, it is a five step process to make Stir Fry:

Step 1) Butter or oil and Garlic. Different forms of pan lubrication have different effects on vegetables. For a sweeter effect, use butter or margarine. To bring out your spices and the natural flavor of your food, use olive or vegetable oil. For fewer calories, use an oil spray minimally.

Garlic. I always use garlic. What can I say? I’m Italian! I’m usually lazy and use chopped garlic from a jar, but the least expensive way to go is to chop it fresh. I use about one clove of garlic per person. Also, when doing garlic, keep in mind the flavor you want to create with your stir fry. Garlic doesn’t just affect the food you add it to, but the items you use also affect the way your garlic tastes! For example, sauté your garlic in butter, and then add a dash of lemon juice for a tangy sweet flavor, or sauté your garlic in olive oil and add chili powder and a touch of yellow curry for some spice! It’s your meal – you decide.

Step 2) Meat. This only applies if you aren’t making a vegetarian dish, but always start your meat first. Cut it into bite-size pieces and sauté in your garlic for about 5-10 minutes, until you can’t see any more pink. It doesn’t have to be cooked completely through because it will be cooking more with your veggies and will be completely cooked through by the end, but you don’t want to see any pink in your chicken.

We can count tofu as meat (well, it’s a protein you are adding to your food). Unlike meat, cook your chopped tofu in a separate dish with the sauce you are going to use for your stir fry. Tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in, so add a good helping of whatever spices you plan to use. Cook at the same time as your veggies, stirring rarely until the sauce seems to have cooked in for maximum flavor, and add to the rest of your fry at the end. Or, to save time, just add to your fry when you’re almost done and heat through.

Step 3) Veggies. Cook whatever veggies you like. Some of my favorite veggies that go good in any sauce include bell peppers, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, and seaweed. You start sautéing the harder veggies, like the onions, peppers, carrots, and broccoli, first so they have time to tenderize. Let them cook for about 10 minutes before you add your delicate vegetables. Tomatoes and spinach will shrink and disintegrate if you cook them too long, so you want to make sure they heat through without disappearing too much. Fresh veggies taste better, but the frozen packs work well, too. And, when you add your veggies, you also want to add your spices. Which brings us to…

Step 4) spices and sauce. Spices are fun. Different combinations make different flavors and play with your food. You can add as much seasoning as you want, or as little as you want. I like adding a lot of seasoning, but which spices and herbs I add are different depending on my sauce. For my Teriyaki sauce, I like to add crushed red pepper, a dash of curry powder, onion powder, parsley, McCormick Hamburger Seasoning in massive amounts, and just a touch of red chili powder or cayenne pepper to my meat/tofu. For my spaghetti sauce, I like to add a little garlic powder (you can never have to much garlic!), parsley, basil, and cilantro (and sometimes oregano, too) with just a pinch of crushed red pepper. A sprinkle of spice brings a depth to the flavor that would otherwise be missing while sparing the mouths of the spice wusses (me, I have an asbestos-lined stomach).

Spice depends on sauce, though. I make my own teriyaki sauce from scratch, but a sauce from a bottle means one less dish you’ll have to clean afterward. Same goes for a red or white pasta sauce. Prego or Bertolli are good brands, but so is the Safeway house brand. Or, if you prefer, add a can of stewed tomatoes and half a can of tomato paste. Tomatoes are good for your heart, and studies show that a serving a day is good for you. Butter is also a sauce option, but that’ll raise you caloric intake through the roof. Stew your veggies in your sauce for as long as you like, but for at least 5 minutes so that everything is heated through.

Step 5) carbs. Stir fry is usually served over rice, but if you are making a red pasta sauce, it makes sense to pour it over pasta. Whatever you choose, this is actually what you start first. My teriyaki stir fry takes exactly the same amount of time as my rice, since I cheat and use a rice cooker. For an extra yummy way to make rice, once it’s cooked you add a half spoonful of sugar and about two or three tablespoons of rice vinegar per serving and mix thoroughly. That is how you make sushi rice, and it’ll add a nice sweet-and-sour kick to your teriyaki sauce.

Once everything is made pour your stir fry over your rice or pasta and serve hot. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy!

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From → Home and Cooking

4 Comments
  1. Andy permalink

    I love this blog! I will definitely cook this for my girlfirend (if she lets me cook it for her). Thanks for writing this advice! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. Hi colleagues, its enormous piece of writing concerning teachingand entirely defined, keep it up
    all the time.

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