I’m pretty sure that my taste buds are in a constant state of identity crisis. They reject most of the typical American foods, such as mac ‘n cheese, heavy casseroles, pizza, and tacos. Sloppy Joes for dinner? No way. Fried chicken? Not in my house. But offer me a plate of pad thai, or won ton soup, or potatoes vindaloo served with basmati rice, and my taste buds will be your best friend. Maybe in some other life, I was Asian. Who knows?
After popcorn and sushi (no, not at the same time), my absolute favorite food is Mongolian B-B-Q, which actually is not Mongolian food at all, but Taiwanese stir-fry. Yeah, confusing, I know. But stir-fried noodles with lots and lots of veggies, and sometimes a little meat or seafood, is indeed one of the BEST FOODS EVER. I could eat it every day. Well, with occasional breaks for popcorn.
Of course, eating Asian food at restaurants can be pretty expensive. So I have been practicing for years to cook my favorite dishes at home. In this post, I will show you how to cook the perfect stir-fry. Okay, maybe “perfect” is too conceited, since this is my own recipe. So we’ll call it Almost Perfect Stir-Fry. Got your wok ready? Here it is:
There are many different types of Asian noodles. In my photo, the ones on the right are made with wheat flour, and are the kind you typically find in Chow Mein dishes. To prepare for stir-fry, cook in boiling water for 1 minute. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT overcook, or they will be mushy and gross. Drain in colander. Set aside. For today’s recipe, I used my favorite, rice noodles, also known as rice stick. When cooked in a stir-fry, this dish is often known as Chow Fun.
Rice Noodles must be soaked in cold water for about 30 minutes, and then drained in a colander before they will be ready to stir-fry. Do this before preparing your sauce and veggies.
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger OR 1 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Mix together soy sauce and cornstarch to make a smooth paste. Slowly mix in remaining ingredients. Set aside.
You can stir-fry a huge variety of vegetables, meats, tofu, or seafood. It is a great opportunity to try veggies that you may not have eaten before. For today’s example recipe, I used:
1 yellow zucchini
1 Asian eggplant
*2 cloves garlic
*several green onions
this weird yellow squash I’ve never seen before but found in the Asian supermarket
*I highly recommend always adding onions, garlic, and cilantro to your stir-fries, as they are very flavorful. Cilantro and green onions are best added at the end.
The first key to success in making stir-fries is to prepare everything before you cook. Slice, chop, peel, get those little stringy tips off of your snow peas. Prepare. Then have everything in bowls, ready to be tossed in at the right time. Heat 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil in your wok (high temps!). Get your wooden spatula ready.
1. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeño. Stir fry 1 min.
2. Add hard vegetables (green beans, carrots, etc.) Stir-fry 1 min.
3. Add soft veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, etc.) 1 min.
4. Push all veggies to the sides of your wok to create a well in the center. Add your noodles to the well. Stir-fry 1 min.
5. Pour sauce directly on top of noodles. Stir-fry everything together for 1 min.
6. Toss in cilantro and green onions
7. Remove from heat and serve in cute Asian bowls with chopsticks. (Chopsticks are not optional, sorry)
One last tip: if you want to add meat to your stir-fry, cook it before the onions and garlic, then remove from the wok and set aside. Add to pan just before the noodles. If you are adding pre-cooked shrimp or peanuts, do this just after step 5. Feel free to adjust my Almost-Perfect sauce until it is almost-perfect for you. Add hot sauce! Try sesame oil! Or forget the homemade stuff and buy one of those pretty little bottles of pre-made sauce. I won’t be offended. Remember, I am not Asian. I just eat like one.