Stir-fries are a quick and easy way to make the most out of fresh ingredients. You can craft them to fit all dietary preferences restrictions, and whether you eat out–or stay in and watch the Travel channel– inspiration can come from anywhere. I didn’t want to scare anyone away with my first blog post, so I decided to start with the simple stir-fry I made a few weeks ago. I rarely follow recipes myself, so think of this as a suggestion. I think recipes are a great way to get started, especially if you are newer to cooking, but you’ll learn so much more if you pay close attention to your senses while you cook–be present!
Though not required, this style of cooking works best in a wok, because the pot’s high walls, depth and weight make it easy to control all of the ingredients you’re going to have flying around. Another advantage is that woks have a larger cooking surface than regular pots, so you can be more confident that everything will cook evenly.
Once you decide which pot to use, you’ll want to keep it in good condition–use wooden, or bamboo utensils to stir rather than metal ones to help avoid scratching up the bottom. Over time, scratches from metal utensils may scrape up the coating many pots have directly into your meal. It will make things taste metallic, and encourage things to stick to your pot and burn.
I used chicken, but this could work with mushrooms, tofu…or even seafood. But for simplicity, let’s start with chicken. I used dark soy sauce to get that color, but since you’ll need regular soy sauce either way, it’s not a deal-breaker if you can’t find it. Season and marinate the chicken to get a deeper color.
Once your chicken is marinated, and good to go, add the chicken, and oil to the hot wok, and let it sear until it stops sticking. Deglaze with lime juice if you need to, then remove from the wok and add in your garlic, peppers, shallots and ginger. Add in some lightly crushed peanuts, and season to taste. Once you add the noodles, and soy sauce, all that’s left are the fresh herbs, and more lime juice. Oh, and don’t forget the chicken from the first step!
Turn off the heat, and serve over rice (white or brown–it’s up to you) or rice vermicelli noodles like I did here. If you want maximum flavor, I’d suggest tossing your rice/noodles into your pot just before serving. It’s also never a bad idea to bring some extra peanuts, herbs, limes, and peppers to the table–that way everyone can create their own perfect bite.
Now, let’s cook.
2 lb boneless-skinless chicken breast/thighs
4 cloves garlic
1 inch of peeled ginger, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 jalapeño* to taste
1/2 cup toasted peanuts (un-salted or lightly salted)
1/2 cup thai basil, sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro, sliced thinly
4 cups Rice vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Ginger Powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Thinly slice chicken and season to taste. Place in a ziplock bag.
2. Combine soy sauce, and lime juice, and add to ziplock bag. Seal, mix, and marinate for at least 20 minutes (but up to 2 hours).
3. Mince garlic, shallots, ginger, and set aside.
4. Thinly slice peppers into strips–discard the seeds if you do not like heat!
5. Crush/grind peanuts to gravel-like consistency and set aside.
6. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok/frying pan on med-high heat, and sear chicken on both sides. **You may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your pot.
7. Once the chicken is seared, set it aside, and lower you head slightly to medium. Toss in your peppers, shallots, garlic, and ginger, and stir in the remaining oil. As things start to caramelize, and release water, scrape up the fond (the stuff that stuck to the pan when you cooked the chicken) and continue stirring.
8. Toss in your herbs, chopped peanuts, rice noodles, and lime juice. Savor that smell. Seriously. Add the cooked chicken at the end.