Zingy Ginger Stir-Fry

Zingy Ginger Stir-Fry

Zingy Ginger Stir-Fry

This is another of my stir-fry improvisations, a spicy gingery variation on Stir Fry Improvisation which I posted last year. There are some notable differences. I served this over Red Chile Fettuccine instead of rice, and I used a spicy oil instead of regular oil…and then there’s the ginger! 🙂

I also used a different brand of protein strips, though this will probably be good most brands.

  • Simple Truth Meatless Griller Strips
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-3 cloves garlic (depending on how much you like garlic or how strong the garlic is)
  • fresh broccoli florets (I used 3 small heads of broccoli, but one large might be enough.)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced, or cut into fine slivers
  • soy sauce
  • Boyajian Jalapeno oil, or other spicy oil
  • Al Dente Red Chili Pepper Fettuccine

The amount of the griller strips and fettuccine depends on how many servings you’re making and whether this is meant to be a one-bowl meal. A half package of the fettuccine is two very generous servings. A whole package would easily feed four hungry people and might be stretched to five. I admit I guestimate the amount of the griller strips I use depending on how many servings. I just sort of break the frozen pieces out of the package and think, that’s about enough for one, two, three…etc. It really depends on how much protein you want per person. If this is a side dish, you could omit the protein strips. They soak up flavor well, but don’t contribute as much to the overall flavor of the dish as all the other ingredients — including the spicy fettuccine!

If serving over fettuccine, keep in mind that though it will take a bit of time to get the big pot of water to a boil, it takes just a few minutes for the pasta to cook! The whole meal comes together fairly quickly, even with the prepping vegetables and boiling water. It’s not instant, but if you’re hungry, you can throw this together and cook it before you reach the point of gnawing on the kitchen utensils. (I speak from experience. About the fast easy meal, that is. Not about gnawing kitchen utensils. Haven’t done that. Don’t recommend it.)

Cook the frozen griller strips in a small amount of the oil. Prep the vegetables, including ginger. Toss onions, garlic, and ginger into the wok with the griller strips. (You may need to add a bit more oil.) Toss and cook over a medium heat. I added the broccoli a bit later after the onions had started getting soft. After adding the broccoli, drizzle soy sauce over the mixture, toss and stir well, then cover and let simmer until broccoli is done, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice for a less spicy version. Serve over Red Chili Pepper Fettuccine for a somewhat spicier version.

The “zing” in this dish comes from three ingredients. All together, it’s not super-hot, but if even mildly spicy food doesn’t agree with you, you can make some substitutions and still have a flavorful dish. Rice or a milder noodle will take some of the zing away, and using a plain cooking oil (or garlic oil instead of garlic) will take most of the rest of the zing from the dish, but…the dish will still sing with a bit of zing if you use a big one inch chunk of fresh ginger in it!

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Stir-fry Improvisation

Stir-fry Improvisation

Stir-fry Improvisation

I felt like a quick stir-fry this week — with basically no planning other than “what can I throw into the wok”. The trick to improvisation is to think about flavors which will go together well — or that you think will go together well if you haven’t tried the combination on something before, AND never use very much seasoning the first time you make something up. The flavoring I used in this was garlic (oil), sesame (oil), saté seasoning, and soy sauce, but I only used very little of each so no one seasoning dominated and the flavors melded together nicely. By using only small amounts, even if you guess wrong about what goes together, it’s not likely to be a complete disaster. Also, if the flavors work out okay in a small amount, the next time you can tweak the amount (better yet, measure!) and (possibly) make the flavor stronger.

This turned out to be flavorful and tasty, with a mild elusive flavor. I’d be hard-pressed to guess the component flavors if I didn’t already know! 😉

3 stalks broccoli
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper
Garlic oil, cut with regular cooking oil
Gardein meatless griller strips
Saté seasoning
Sesame oil
Soy sauce

Stir-fry griller strips in oils — except sesame oil which is just used for flavor — then add chopped veggies and cook, tossing and turning over the mixture frequently. Sprinkle a little saté seasoning (which I get from the local Penzeys, but you can get it online). When the veggies are about half-cooked, add some soy sauce and drizzle a little sesame oil over the top. Stir, turn down the heat, cover and simmer several minutes — or until the rice is done.  🙂 I started the rice in the microwave while throwing ingredients into the wok.  For my microwave rice cooker, it takes 12 minutes on 50% in the microwave, then another 5 minutes steaming on the counter. I started the rice shortly after I added the veggies to the wok and everything came out about right.

2014-03-25 18.58.37

Kung-Fu Stir-Fry

Kung-fu Stir-Fry, with rice on the side.

Kung-fu Stir-Fry, with rice on the side.

I jokingly call this “Kung-fu” because “it comes in peace, then kicks you in the throat.” 😆 No, seriously, it isn’t that hot (though you can always make it throat-kicking hotter if you want). Made with 2 Tbls of chili oil it is — to my taste buds — pleasantly spicy without being too hot. The amount of chili oil to some extent depends on how hot you want it and how many ingredients you’re putting in the wok. If you want it less spicy, substitute an unflavored cooking oil for 1 Tbls of the oil. If you want it spicier, I wouldn’t recommend adding much more oil; you run the risk of the dish being too greasy. Try adding a small amount of a diced hot pepper along with the bell pepper and other vegetables.

The flavor of substitute-chicken soy strips varies depending on brand. (I use Gardein brand.) I won’t guarantee the flavorings will be exactly right for all brands. You may need to tweak them a bit depending on the brand. Likewise, I’ve noticed some variation in 5-spice powder blends. Right now I’m using Penzeys blend and it seems just right to me. You can find 5-spice powder (sometimes sold as “Chinese Five Spice Powder”) in specialty stores, Asian markets, and online. (I’m fortunate to have a local Pendary’s but you can order their five spice powder, as well as a number of other spices I use in various recipes, from their online shop.

This is the absolute basic recipe. If you have a can of bamboo shoots or water chestnuts (or both) on hand you can add them, too. Feel free to experiment with additional vegetables. If you really overload the wok you may need a little more oil to stir-fry things properly, but not much more.

I use red bell pepper for this, but green is fine if you prefer the sharper flavor of green bell peppers. I developed the recipe based on the milder flavor of the red bell peppers because the red looks so good in the dish with the bright green of the snowpeas. 🙂

I also prefer using fresh mushrooms, but have used canned many times because that’s what I’ve got on hand. If using canned mushrooms, drain and rinse before adding to the wok. (You’ll get a better sauce if using fresh.)

1 7 oz pkg chicken-type soy strips (I use Gardein chick’n strips)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4-8 oz mushrooms (4 oz canned or 8 oz fresh button mushrooms)
A generous handful of snowpeas
2 Tbls chili oil (I use Boyajian, either regular or roasted)
4 Tbls soy sauce
2 Tbls dry  red or white wine (whatever’s on hand)
1 tsp five spice powder
(Other vegetables optional)

If serving over rice, prepare rice in your usual way. If serving over noodles, cook according to package directions.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Lightly brown the soy strips in the oil, then add the vegetables and stir-fry in a wok over medium-high heat — stirring almost constantly — until veggies are just tender. Then turn the heat down and add the other ingredients. Toss and stir well. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. As the flavors from the spices, oil and vegetable juices meld, it makes a delicious sauce to spoon over rice or noodles. Makes about 4 servings.

Hint: if you’re able to grow snowpeas in the spring or fall — or have access to fresh-picked snowpeas — it makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture of the dish. Supermarket snowpeas are typically flaccid and you don’t get that crisp-tender texture and more lively green that you get when the pods go from the garden to the wok.

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