Stir-fries are an easy meal. I didn’t always think so, back when my inexperience and disorganization made it seem like more bother than it was worth. I’m really glad I stuck with it. Now I am undaunted with the prospect of preparing a stir-fry dish. A bit of practice, some planning ahead, and remaining organized are key components to this stress-free, easy meal.
While I’ve made homemade teriyaki sauce and planned ahead to make long grain rice, this post is all about fast fast FAST! I’m sharing my tips and tricks on how to make an Asian-inspired meal as easily (and quickly) as possible.
Some items are flexible, but I always use fresh garlic and ginger. While we can use shortcuts for other parts of this meal, I’ve realized these two items must be fresh. Without them dishes never reach the same elevation of taste.
Stir-fries are a great way to get non-veggie fans (like my reluctant husband) really enjoying their veggies. Shortcuts are available: pre-sliced packs of stir-fry veg or frozen mixed vegetables. Along with the fresh garlic and ginger, I buy organic fresh carrots, broccoli, red bell peppers, mushrooms, and Chinese pea pods or sugar snap peas. We don’t use tomatoes but you could. A lot of people enjoy fresh bean sprouts. Select what you like.
These three jarred items are useful members of my stir-fry repertoire. For this stir-fry we need Teriyaki Sauce and Stir-Fry Sauce (I like Kikkoman) and if serving dumplings we need some fresh ginger in a small bowl of Rice Vinegar for dipping.
Frozen Dumplings cook up just like frozen perogies: drop from frozen into a big pot of boiling water and stir so they don’t stick; boil til they’ve floated a few minutes; drain and then fry in a bit of hot cooking oil until they crisp up on all sides. Slice some fresh ginger into a small dish of Rice Vinegar for dipping, and it’s almost as good as (or even better) than take-out. Yum! Sure it takes 2 more pans and a few more minutes than a basic stir-fry, but it’s a delicious addition to a special Chinese dinner at my home.
With our stir-fry we enjoy steam fried noodles (drop a half-bag into a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes and drain), instant white rice, or Uncle Ben’s über-convenient Long Grain & Wild Rice. True, it’s overpackaged and precooked but every now and then having this easy item in the pantry helps me fry it up to finish a meal quickly. This is about avoiding take-out by cooking at home without stress.
This is a great time to go all-veggie, add tofu (great recipe for baked tofu), or stretch a meat protein really far like we do in my house. One boneless sirloin steak, or one whole chicken breast, makes at least four large servings of this dinner. Gotta love that!
Slice the steak thinly across the grain, or cut the chicken breast into 1-inch cubes or strips. Into a bowl they go, tossed with about 3/4 cup of teriyaki sauce to marinate as we continue. Drain off marinade before cooking. *Always wash hands, cutting boards and your knife between steps.
Yes, it takes a few minutes to prep the veggies but with a calm focus (and a good knife) it’s a pleasant task. I like putting the prepped veg in different bowls but piles on the cutting board works too. Heat a splash of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to hot and quickly cook the meat, turning each piece to cook on all sides; takes 2-3 minutes. They’re small and the pan is hot so it doesn’t take long (cut a piece in half to check – we want no pink). Scoop them out to a plate to wait while we cook up the veggies. I love sautéed mushrooms so I do them in a separate fry pan and add to the stir-fry at the end along with the cooked meat.
Veggies get cooked for only about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, and then in with about a cup of the stir-fry sauce. Promptly stir in the cooked meat and sautéed mushrooms to heat through, turn off the heat, and plate it up over rice or noodles. For a garnish I like chopped peanuts, my grown sons like roasted sunflower seeds and a bit of Sambal (spicy chili paste), and hubby likes it just as is.
Ta Da! An easy Asian-inspired meal we make at my house – fast, fresh, and super easy. This keeps my joy factor way up. Have fun, stay peaceful, and enjoy this easy Asian-inspired meal at home.
Good Housekeeping on YouTube: just under a minute and a half on how to julienne.