Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Quick & Easy Stir-Fry

Posted by Bonita

I have a confession to make: I can’t actually cook authentic Chinese food. I know! It’s terrible of me! I’m Chinese, so you’d think I’d know how to cook real, authentic Chinese dishes. And you’re probably wondering, “What kind of mother doesn’t teach her daughter to cook food of her own heritage?” Let me just say it’s not my mother’s fault. There were plenty of times I could have learned from my ever-so-talented mother; I just chose never to do so. I guess partly it comes from laziness, and the other part comes from wanting to be spoiled. It’s just easier to sit back and let my mom do the cooking (since she enjoys it anyway, so why should I crash her party, right?).

Secondly, I always had this mentality that Chinese dishes are complicated. It might not, who knows! But the fact that Chinese meals are eaten family-style often means making 3 or 4 different dishes per meal (excluding the rice). A real Chinese meal has variety, and frankly, I do not have the time nor the room (both in my stomach and my fridge) to make 2 or 3 different dishes every night.

Thus, I often turn to my pseudo-Asian-inspired dishes. I often do stir-fries because: 1) they are “healthy”, depending on what you put in it, 2) it’s versatile, and 3) quick and easy to prepare. I love doing a chicken and vegetable stir-fry or a purely vegetarian stir-fry with tofu, and often serve it over a bed of rice (either white or brown) or noodles.

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I typically stir-fry my meat and/or vegetables with about 3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce. Hoisin sauce is also known as Chinese barbeque sauce, and has a sweet-quality to it, thus adding just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. It can be found in many (if not all) supermarkets in the Asian-food aisle. I also throw in ½ teaspoon of Chinese five-spice (1/4 tsp tossed with the cooked yaskisoba and ¼ tsp tossed into the meat/vegetables while they are cooking). I’m a huge fan of Chinese five-spice because I think it adds a whole new layer and depth to any Asian dish. I typically serve my stir-fry with soba noodles, which I’ve boiled according to the package, then rinsed with cold water before tossing it with the five-spice. After having added the hoisin sauce to the wok, I’ll toss in the yakisoba and toss everything together until heated through. Use any vegetables you have on hand: carrots, celery, Chinese vegetables (I love using Shanghai baby bok choy), beansprouts, Asian eggplants, zucchini…whatever suits your fancy and whatever you have sitting in the fridge. Any meat will work too, although I typically tend to use chicken or tofu (for a vegetarian alternative). And don’t forget some minced garlic and ginger! It’s a must in any stir-fry!

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