Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stir Fry

My brother "Mr. Giggles" has been asking me to write some tips for making stir fry. This is a difficult assignment for me, because my definition of "stir fry" is probably different from that of most people. Most people I know cut up all kinds of vegetables, and stir fry them with some soy sauce. That is their definition of "stir fry". You have to think of the words "stir fry" not as a recipe, but as a form of cooking. Asking for how to do stir fry is like asking how to make casserole. There are as many different recipes for stir fry as their are vegetables and meat combinations. But there are some basics to chinese cooking that can help you get started.
First of all I would suggest getting some good recipes. One of my favorite cook books was given to me by one of my missionary companions. It is written in both chinese and english. But I also have a "Sunset" chinese cook book that I like. Martin Yan has some good cook books as well.
Here are some ingredients that I always like to have around for chinese cooking:

--Fresh garlic (the bottle kind tastes sour)
--Fresh ginger (but I actually don't mind the bottle ginger)
--Soy sauce (both light and dark)
--Chinese fragrant vinegar. This is a brown vinegar, not the rice wine kind.
--Sesame oil
--Oyster flavor sauce
--Hoisin sauce
--Black bean and chili sauce
--Chili and garlic sauce
--Chinese dried noodles

One thing to keep in mind when doing chinese cooking is that the chinese like to have similar shapes to the food they cook together. I don't really follow this for this most part, except if I am cooking noodles. When I cook noodles, I like to cut my vegetables and meat in long strips to mirror the length of the noodles. So if you were to make fried rice, you would want to cube the vegetables and meat in small pieces.

Let me give you two quick simple recipes that we eat often.

Green Beans and Chicken

I buy quite a bit of fresh green beans for this dish because my family loves them. Wash them and cut off the ends.
1 Chicken breast cubed
Crush about 3 cloves of garlic
Soy Sauce
Salt to taste

Heat a wok, or other frying pan until hot. Add about 3 tablespoons. cooking oil. Stir fry the chicken until done. Remove from the pan. Add about 3 more TB. cooking oil. Cook the green beans until tender. I usually have to add a little water as I'm cooking to prevent them from burning. You could use oil instead, but I try to be healthy. ;) When the beans are about done, return the chicken to the pan. Add the garlic, and about 2 TB soy sauce. My family loves this!

Garlic Cauliflower

Cauliflower cut in florets
1 chicken breast cubed.
4-5 cloves of garlic crushed
white pepper
Salt to taste

Heat wok til it's hot. Add about 3 TB cooking oil. Cook the chicken and remove from the pan. Add more oil and cook the cauliflower. Cauliflower tends to soak up the oil, so if it starts to get too dry in the pan, I usually add a little water or broth if I have it. When it is almost tender, add the chicken back to the pan. Add the white pepper, and garlic. Add tiny amounts of water as needed to keep it from burning. You can also vary this recipe by adding a small amount of soy sauce. (like 2 TB) When the cauliflower is tender it is done.

I'll try to add more recipes as I can, but most "greens" can be cooked with just oil, garlic and salt. Good luck!

1 comment:

Mr. Giggles said...

Thanks, sis! We make the first kind you talk about here--lots of veggies and some type of meat, but it never tastes like really authentic Chinese food, even though it is good. I guess what I really want is to know how to cook it so it tastes like it was cooked in a Chinese kitchen (in a home, not a restaurant). But these sound good, too! Keep 'm coming! Especially any of your Szechuan recipes! :o)