Some years ago our friends gave us some spice mixes purchased from a street vendor in Atlanta, Georgia. With hand lettered names like “Satan Himself”, “Hot as Hell” we found that they worked fabulously in stir-fries. The spice mixes are long since used up but our love of stir-fry continues. It is so good that we always ask ourselves why we don’t fix it more often. It’s quick, colorful, healthy, and delicious. And it’s just as good the next day.
I have used just about every vegetable I can think of, along with basil, mushrooms, cashews and almonds, pickled sushi ginger, and I usually add some thinly sliced chicken, turkey or pork. My usual mix of vegetables is celery, carrot, scallions, bell pepper, Napa cabbage, and pork strips. I start with a very hot wok, a little chili oil, and throw in the pork seasoned with salt and pepper. I cook just until the red, rare color turns to pale pink, and then I remove it from the wok. I add the vegetables that take a little longer to cook such as grated carrots, sliced celery and bell pepper. Now is the time to drizzle in some sesame oil and add your spices. If the mixture needs a little salt pour in some soy sauce. You might add a little lemon juice too. Then I add the chopped scallions and thinly sliced cabbage. Keep tossing until the cabbage is crisp-tender, add the cooked pork, and it’s done! Serve over rice and congratulate yourself on preparing one of the healthiest dishes around.
I like to use three different spice mixes, all from Penzeys: Hot Curry Powder (Madras style), Bangkok Blend, and Cajun Seasoning. These are all pretty hot and potent, but they are brimming with flavor, so by all means use them, but add a little at a time and taste as you go. The sesame oil is essential for an Asian version of stir-fry but a little goes a long way – a teaspoon may be all you need.
Those of us that are concerned about blood sugar levels shy away from white rice. But what is stir-fry without rice? Some cooks use noodles in place of rice but I feel they deliver about the same glycemic load as white rice and I have never liked the healthier brown rice, I think it’s tough and tastes funny. Enter brown basmati and brown jasmine rices. I love them! They are much more flavorful and tender than the common long-grain, brown rice. These can be found at Whole Foods and other food stores.
One more ingredient that I love to add to stir-fry: bean sprouts. But have you noticed that due to health scares some stores no longer stock bean sprouts? One time, just on a whim, I tried pre-packaged, broccoli slaw in place of bean sprouts. It was a revelation. I’ve thought broccoli slaw, pictured below, was a little tough and chewy when eaten raw, but cooked in stir-fry it is slightly sweet, and has a tender crunch similar to bean sprouts. And to my knowledge no one has fallen ill from eating broccoli slaw.