Stir-fry is a great dish for dads in the kitchen. It’s quick, it’s easy, and brace yourself…it’s healthy! I can remember the very first time that I was unable to finish all of the food served to me in a restaurant. It was stir-fry and I was in high school. I was impressed. From that moment on, whenever I was super-hungry, I’d order stir-fry if it was on the menu.
There are several keys to good stir-fry. Use a high-quality, flavored oil to sauté the meat and vegetables. Vegetable or canola oil works, and grape seed oil tolerates a higher temperature (and is good for you), but a high quality olive oil or, better yet, sesame oil, make a huge difference. It helps to create “layers” of taste. Don’t use too much oil, and don’t be afraid to use some heat. I’m told that most cooks wimp out on the heat, so use at least medium high heat.
Start the rice before you start the stir-fry, (unless you’re using Minute Rice…yes, we dads resort to Minute Rice on occasion). Depending on the variety, rice usually takes about 20 minutes. If you can, time the rice to be ready just when the stir-fry is done. If you have all of your ingredients ready to go, actual stir-frying will only take about 10 minutes.
Try to have the chunks of meat roughly the same size. This will promote even doneness. I like to start the meat first. As soon as it seared on all sides, add the vegetables. (You may have to do some experimenting with timing in order to achieve your preferred level of “crunch” in the vegetables. Remember: Stir-fried vegetables should be crunchy, or as some cooks describe them, “tender-crisp.”) Always try to use farm-fresh, in-season vegetables, too. My recent purchases of snow peas and asparagus in Lancaster Country inspired making this stir-fry.
Add your finishing sauce just before you’re ready to serve. I didn’t make mine from scratch, but “tweaked” it.
Most importantly, ignore the phone! Just as I was ready to add the finishing sauce, the phone rang. I covered the electric frying pan, (the poor man’s wok), and took the call. The result was that a lot of liquid from the captured steam collected in the pan, and thinned and weakened my finishing sauce. I then made matters worse by trying to reduce the liquid with continued cooking, (a huge “no-no” with stir-fry), and my final result was not my best effort. If you look closely, you’ll see some wilting on the asparagus chunks. Live and learn.
CHICKEN, SNOW PEAS, AND ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
3 chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes
1 pint snow peas, ends trimmed and “strings” removed
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1” chunks
1-2 Tablespoons oil (I used 1 T. of sesame oil, and 1 T. of grape seed oil)
approx. ½ cup finishing sauce (I used Mr. Yoshida’s)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce (I use Kikkoman’s)
Prepare the rice, timing it so that its completion will coincide with the stir-fry being done. Prepare the finishing sauce. Set aside. Prepare all ingredients as “stir-fry ready” in advance. Begin sautéing the chicken in oil over medium-high heat. When it has seared on all sides, add the vegetables, occasionally tossing and coating everything with the oil in the pan.
When vegetables are “tender crisp,” (approx 10-15 minutes), add the finishing sauce and toss the ingredients to coat them well. Serve over rice.