On my final night house sitting for my cousins, I realized that I still had a fair amount of produce in my fridge. I knew I could just take home what I didn’t use, but I figured it was a good opportunity to get creative with the veggies and use up what I could in my dinner that night.
I kept going back and forth between a stir fry and curry. Stir fry or curry, stir fry or curry? Both sounded good, but when crunch time came, I decided I wasn’t in the mood for the creamy red Thai curry I had dreamed up, so stir fry won.
Making a stir fry really doesn’t require a recipe – it’s more of a process, where you want to keep some basic ideas in mind.
1. Take stock of the veggies in your fridge, and select a variety of colours, textures, and flavours. Don’t forget some aromatics like onions, leeks, and garlic!
I grabbed cauliflower, green beans, broccoli, carrots, leeks, kale, and garlic. Some leftover roasted chick peas snuck into the picture as well.
2. Decide on some extras – you probably want to add a protein source to round out the meal. This could be meat, chicken, seafood, nuts, tofu, beans, etc. I took a wander down to Meridian Meats and picked up some very fresh tiger prawns.
3. Select your seasonings and sauces. You want to have some sort of sauce to tie your whole dish together, and you want to create some amazing flavour. I often just open the cupboards, and grab bottles of random items. For this stir fry, I used soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha, and ginger.
4. Prep your ingredients! Stir fries happen FAST! You want to have all your ingredients ready to go, so you aren’t fumbling around your kitchen while the rest of your ingredients burn in the pan. This means chop all your veggies and meat, and have them neatly laid out to grab as required.
Let’s Get Cooking!
So, where do you start? I always like to heat up my wok (or frying pan if you don’t have one) and start with my proteins. I find that by cooking the meat/poultry/seafood/tofu first, you can ensure a really good golden brown product. Since I was doing prawns this time, it took all of 2 – 3 min to cook them completely. I simply seasoned with a bit of sriracha, added a bit of oil to the pan, cooked them up, and set them aside.
Depending on how much oil you added, you may or may not need to add more before you do the veggies. Start with your aromatics first – leeks, onion, garlic, ginger, and stir fry them for a minute to get their flavours going in the pan. Then add the veggies that will take the longest to cook. For me, this was the cauliflower and carrots.
Continue to add veggies in decreasing order of cooking time. Something like green beans I would add mid to end, while something like spinach I would add right before serving. This will also depend on your desired doneness.
If you are like me, and don’t like super crunchy cauliflower, add a bit of water (1/3 – 1/2 cup) to your wok. It will help steam the veggies as your stir fry, and the water will evaporate, not affecting your sauce in the end.
Speaking of sauce…once your veggies are done, add your proteins back in, and add your sauces. The amount is really up to you. If you want a really saucy dish, I recommend using some stock and corn starch, so you’ll get a nice thick sauce to coat your ingredients.
Time to Eat!
If you are like me, you’ll want to serve your stir fry with some form of carb – rice, noodles, or…well, those are the only two I would use, but you might want another grain.
Fortunately, I had some cooked brown rice in the fridge, so I simply reheated it, then topped it with my veggies and prawns.
Oh yeah, and a few sesame seeds as well. Chopped cashews, peanuts, or fresh herbs also make a great garnish.
I enjoyed my spicy dish with some cooling Cucumber flavoured DRY Soda.
All while basking in the setting sun.
Mission accomplished – I cleaned out those veggies from the fridge…even if I took the stir fry leftovers home with me 😉
What are some of your favourite stir fry ingredients? Have a favourite recipe? Please share!