A stir fry is an absolute go to for me. Once you get the technique nailed it’s such an easy, quick and cheap dinner that can be made really impressive, maybe even ‘gourmet’ with a few special touches.
Stir fry is a really vague term. Like technically anything that’s put in a pan, fried and stirred is a stir fry right? Right. But all stir fries are not born equal and in this recipe I endeavour to show you the light. I mean to be fair, I have absolutely no position to dictate what a good stir fry is or is not but all I know is there are a few things you have to do every time if you want a final result that is authentic as well as tasty.
There are a few key things that you have to remember and you will be rocking. The first comes with prep. You need to think about how you are cutting your veg because some veg is harder than others and therefore cooks quicker than its thinner counterparts. There are a few ways to address this issue: either cut the hard veg (e.g carrots, green beans) small so they cook through at the same speed as the softer veg (peppers, mangetout etc…), or add the hard veg to the pan first and give them some extra time on the heat. If you are feeling extra particular about the texture of your finished stir fry or have some time to spare, you can pre-blanch things like broccoli which cook better with more water or steam but it’s absolutely not essential.
Another thing to consider when cooking a stir fry is seasoning. If you grew up in an asian household you’ll be familiar with a lot of the seasoning I use, but if you did not, some may be a bit alien. Although all of the ingredients included in this recipe most definitely bring additional elements to the dish, there are only a few that are essential and are mostly store cupboard classics. Garlic and ginger is so readily available from supermarkets and greengrocers and brings fresh and savoury flavours that you cannot replicate with pre-bought sauces. You can add as little or as much as you like (particularly the garlic) depending on who you might be seeing that evening.
Soy sauce is another ingredient that most people have already sat in their cupboard but should be used sparingly. It should be present for the sake of its flavour rather than its saltiness because too much soy sauce can really ruin a dinner. In this recipe you will see both light (traditionally what you would have at home) and dark soy sauce but the dark can be left out, it’s only really present to add colour and a bit of sweetness.
Sesame oil is not so common in a western pantry but it’s not expensive, is usually available in supermarkets and creates a much more authentic tasting Chinese vibe when included.
The final decision that needs to be made when stir frying is what carby base one wants to go with. In this example I’ve obviously used noodles which I incorporated in with the veg in the pan before serving, but rice also works perfectly well. If going with rice, however, you might want a wetter stir fry to give some sauceage to your pearly white base.
In this recipe I use some marinated jackfruit which can be substituted for any meat substituted or simply left out, just don’t forget that if you choose to leave it out this dish is pretty low in protein. Tofu works equally well!
That’s enough waffle, let’s get to it.
Recipe: (Serves 1-2)
Any quick cooking veg you want, but I went with:
1 Red Pepper
A handful of mangetout
A handful of green beans
⅓ head of broccoli
A handful of mushrooms
Some cherry tomatoes (absolutely unauthentic but needed using up…)
1 tin of unripe Jackfruit
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch of ginger
1 tsp light soy sauce
½ tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of sugar
½ tsp white pepper
Garnish: (all optional)
If you are having rice, cook it the way you usually do (I will address this enormous can of worms in another post one day) and if you are having noodles you may need to prep them too. I use fresh udon because they can come straight out of the packet into the pan but if your noodles are dry then you may need to soak them according to the packet instructions.
Open the jackfruit tin and slice it into smaller bite size pieces. Some brands leave the seeds in, if so remove as many as you can. Set the jackfruit aside in a bowl with a splash of sesame oil, soy sauce and a pinch of salt and sugar to marinate whilst you prep everything else.
Peel and mince the garlic and ginger
Cut the rest of your veg into bitesize pieces (remember chinese food should always be bitesized thanks to the chopsticks it will be eaten with), taking into account what I said earlier about the hard/soft veg.
Put your biggest frying pan/wok onto a high heat and get the pan really hot before adding a splash of vegetable oil.
Once the oil is smoking hot, throw in the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add your veg into the pan at this point. If you have chopped your hard veg small enough you can add it all together, however, if you opted for the multiple stage approach as mentioned before then add your hard veg first until it starts to soften before adding the rest of the softer veg into the pan.
Now you can add all of your seasoning and stir through thoroughly.
I then add the udon noodles but if you are having rice of course just omit this step.
Once the noodles are heated through, everything is done and it’s time to serve up.
Dish out the contents of your pan into 1 or 2 bowls depending on how hungry you are and garnish with any or all: finely sliced spring onions, coriander and sesame seeds. I like to add a few chinese pickles on the side with a bit of chilli oil.