Thursday, 3 February 2011

Why don’t you ….. stir fry!!!


Today is the Chinese Lunar New year. And "Chi fan le mei you?" "Have you eaten yet?" Is a common greeting to guests as they enter your home to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Why don’t you celebrate today with a Chinese stir fry?

Stir-frying is a Chinese method of cooking thinly sliced meat and vegetables so that the inherent textures and flavors of the ingredients are retained, typically involving a quick sauté over high heat and sometimes concluding with a brief steaming in a flavored sauce.

A proper wok is the ideal utensil to stir fry in, but a medium sized shallow Kadhai will do in a pinch. A wok is designed (a combination of a certain depth that is hotter and sloping sides that are cooler) to allow one to move ingredients away from the hot centre as they are cooked. It is also a good idea to have everything you need ready before you begin because stir-frying needs to be fast and leaves no space for time to stop and chop broccoli while the onion is cooking. So it is a good idea to cut all your vegetables and meats and prepare your sauce in advance. We also carry a range of gourmet stir fry sauces from Blue Dragon that are excellent to have on hand for quick meals.

Vegetables and meats should be approximately the same size (bite sized is best) since everything should be small enough to cook through equally and without burning. When your wok is really hot, add oil and when it is hot, add the aromatics that will flavour it, such as ginger and garlic. Stir-fry these for a few seconds until their aroma is released and then go on to add your other ingredients, staggering them according to the length of their cooking time.

Ideally start with any meats, stir-fry until almost done, remove and set aside so you can add back at the end (this will ensure the meat cooks fully but does not dry out.) Then add harder vegetables like baby corn and carrots, stir-fry for about 2 minutes, add vegetables like beans, onions and others. Broccoli florets, peppers and greens, all vegetables that require minimum cooking time can be added at the end and briefly cooked or just steamed. You do need to exercise a little judgment here - you are aiming for crunchy but cooked vegetables - so at this point if you think they need just a little more cooking time then just continue to stir fry but if you think they are more raw than cooked, cover and steam until done. Practice the basic technique of lifting under the food in the wok with a spatula or other flat utensil and moving it to the side.

The sauce would ideally go in when the ingredients are two-thirds cooked.

Here are some versions of stir fry.

For delicious stir fried chicken and vegetables Chinese style heat 1 tsp oil add 500 gms. chicken in batches and stir fry until browned, remove and set aside. Now in same skillet, heat 1 tsp of oil, add 4 cups assorted vegetables with lots of finely chopped garlic and stir fry  until tender but crunchy. Reduce heat to medium and add Black Bean with Roasted Garlic & Chilli Stir Fry Sauce, a Chinese style black bean sauce with dark soy, roasted garlic and spicy green chillies and reserved chicken. Toss well and serve hot over steamed rice.

Or try a simple potato stir fry; heat one cup olive oil and add 2 cups potatoes cut into thin strips along with 3 cups of salami sliced thin. Stir Fry until golden. Add 2 tbsps Lee Kum Kee Black pepper sauce and 1 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Guilin Chilli sauce along with 2 cups assorted vegetables (carrot, beans, celery, colored capsicum) julienned like for noodles. Stir Fry until the colors of the vegetables brighten and they are crunchy but not overcooked, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately! Serve hot with noodles.

Another great idea is a spicy sweet tropical seafood stir fry with prawns; Heat oil, add 250 gms jumbo prawns and stir fry until pink, (about 2 minutes), remove and set aside. In the same pan, add 1/2 cup pineapple and 1 cup broccoli and red bell pepper. Stir fry to coat with oil and cook until colors are bright and vegetables are crunchy. Add Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli and Kaffir Lime sauce, stir fry, toss well. Add in the cooked shrimp and mix well. Serve hot with rice.

Happy Chinese New year and May you eat well in the Year of the Rabbit!

Buy chicken ham & salami from Natures Basket store at best prices !

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