Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Stir Frying Vegetables

We are always trying to eat more vegetables, more greens.  A quick stir fry is one of the fastest, easiest, tastiest ways to make a last minute vegetable side dish to suit any meal.  Romaine lettuce leaves, warm and slightly wilted, tumbled in a sauce of garlic and chillies.  After that – the same recipe and method but this time with halved baby bok choy.  We could not stop eating either of these.  Here is a recipe and a stir fry technique that any of us can take into our kitchens and adapt to just about any vegetable we find in the ref.  The technique for a vegetable stir fry is the same no matter which vegetables you use.  This stir fry of romaine lettuce (and the second of baby bok choy) can just as easily be made with red peppers and mushrooms, asparagus and snow peas, or bok choy and green beans.
The Basics of stir frying vegetables starts with; don’t crowd the pan, stick to no more than four cups of chopped hard or medium hard vegetables or eight to twelve cups chopped leafy greens in a 14-inch wok in order to avoid crowding the pan. A saute pan is fine for some stir frying, but not great for greens like in this recipe; it’s simply not deep enough to hold greens the way a wok does.
Dry the vegetables.  When stir frying anything from snow peas to lettuce, it’s important that the vegetables are very dry.  Otherwise, the vegetables will steam and braise in the pan and lose their crisp texture.  Giving the vegetables a whirl in a salad spinner is the easiest solution, but you can also pat them thoroughly with kitchen towels.  All stir frying is quick, but stir fry of just vegetables goes even quicker.  Don’t walk away from the stove or pause to answer a text.  Once the oil is in the pan, a stir fry needs your full attention.  For two to three minute recipes, we think we can handle that.

1.    STIR FRIED LETTUCE  (or baby bok choy) with garlic chillies:

Stir Fry Vegetables
Stir Fry Vegetables

  • 1 medium head of romaine lettuce, cut crosswise into 1 inch wide pieces, about 8 cups. Or  8 to 12 cups of baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise.
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry or Shao Hsing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce.
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp minced jalapeno chillies, with seeds (optional)
  • 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Cut up the ingredients.  It is very important that all the ingredients are cut as directed in the ingredient list.  The most important key to making a good stir fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size as specified above.  Cut the vegetables and set them aside in a bowl.  Cut the aromatics and set them aside as well.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sherry (or rice wine), broth and soy sauce.
  • Set the bowl of vegetables, aromatics, and sauce near your stove.  Also have a very small bowl of water next to the stove. 
  • Heat the wok.  Turn on the stove burner, as high as it will go.  Set a 14 inch wok over the high heat burner.  To determine when the wok is hot enough, start flicking droplets of water from the small bowl into the pan after 30 seconds.  As soon as bead of water evaporates within 1 top 2 seconds of contact, the wok is heated and ready to stir fry.  Do not overheat the wok.
  • Pull the wok off the heat and add 1 tbsp of oil.  Pick up the pan and carefully swirl it to coat the bottom and sides.  (If the wok smokes wildly the moment you add the oil you’ve overheated the wok.  Remove the wok from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.  When it’s cool enough to handle carefully remove the oil with paper towels, wash the wok, and start again.)
  • Add the aromatics to the wok.  Put the wok back on the heat. Add the garlic and chillies (if using), and stir fry them for 10 seconds or until fragrant.  
  • Push the garlic up the sides of the wok and add the lettuce or bok choy, or whatever else you’re using.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper over top
  • From this time on, the vegetables will cook for 2 to 2 ½ minutes. 
  • Stir fry for I minute or until the lettuce or vegetables begin to wilt. 
  • Pour the sauce mixture around and down the sides of the pan instead of directly into the center to prevent from cooling the pan and lowering the cooking temperature. Stir fry and toss to coat lettuce.  Cook for another 30 to 60 seconds and serve hot.
If your are interested, Check our other latest Vegetable Stir Fry Recipe here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I will try to cook this later and I'm sure my husband will definitely like it. Thank you so much for sharing this.