These foods are made for wokkin’

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Dan Bolyard/courtesy photo Stir-frying is a light, healthy way to cook meat and veggies.

I donít do a lot of stir-fried items, mostly because I have a glass-top stove that doesnít get hot enough to properly heat a pan. I do have a hot-plate with an actual element burner that gets far hotter than my stove, so I am not completely out of luck.

Iíll usually stir-fry when I am looking for lighter fare, setting aside those dishes calling for butter and cream. Noodles run the gamut from ramen to the pictured linguini. Meat can be chicken or beef, but usually whatever pops out of the freezer when I am looking around for something. In this case it was a roast of about 2 pounds.

I partially thawed the roast and cut it in half, setting aside one portion for another meal later. The remainder of the meat I sliced into strips and then cut it again into a dice. I also chopped up half an onion into a small dice. I put a large frying pan on the stove with a little bit of butter to lubricate the pan and placed the onions into it when the butter was hot. I also grated a bit of fresh ginger, as I had a large hand of it in the refrigerator to use up. When the onions had a little bit of color I added the beef and then cooked it to a dark brown color, not just cooked through. I took a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and a little bit of aged balsamic vinegar in place of teriyaki sauce, which I discovered I was out of, and stirred it into the meat.

As the meat was cooking I got another pot going with some lightly salted water to cook the noodles. When they were cooked through, I drained them. After removing the meat to a plate I put that pan back on the heat and got the pan very hot before dumping the noodles into it. This deglazed the pan a bit and gives the noodles some flavor. You could cook the noodles until they brown lightly, giving them a greater depth of flavor, or just cook them through to clean up the pan, which I did.

I had a bag of frozen broccoli, of which I pulled out a meal sized portion and set it out to thaw slightly as the rest of the meal was cooking. I could have easily used fresh florets, blanching them slightly in the same pot I boiled the noodles in, after they were done cooking. I wouldnít cook them through, but just enough to brighten their color, as I was going to put them into the frying pan after the noodles were done and removed. I donít care to cook broccoli in water to the point of being done, as that flavor is boring and one-dimensional. In this case I put them into the same frying after getting it very hot. I stirred from time to time, allowing the broccoli to brown lightly. If this isnít your thing, by all means cook the broccoli as you see fit.

Knowing that the meat was heavily seasoned, and had a little bit of residual juice, I didnít add any additional seasonings to any part of it. If you are a little shy about the oyster sauce, thatís fine. Iíd then check the meat for seasonings before serving and adjust as needed.

I still served the meal with a bottle of soy sauce at the ready, but no chopsticks.

CHICKEN RICE FRY

2 cups white rice

4 cups water

2/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into medium dice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and lightly chopped

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 onion, large diced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring rice and water to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rice is tender, about 25 minutes or so. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Stir until smooth. Mix in ginger, garlic and red pepper. Stir in chicken, cover, and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, place sesame oil and allow to heat through. Stir in water chestnuts, broccoli, carrot and onion and cook until lightly brown. Remove veggies from pan to a plate; cover to keep warm. Return pan to high heat. Scoop out chicken from marinade with a slotted spoon and place in frying pan. Cook chicken through until just done. Stir in vegetables and marinade. Bring to a boil, allowing veggies to cook through to desired doneness. Remove from heat and serve right away over the rice.

FRIED RICE

1 pound boneless roast pork, diced

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cups cooked, cold rice

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

4 eggs

Heat a pan with oil and saute the pork until browned. Add the rice and stir well, breaking up the grains.

When the rice is well coated with oil, add the oyster sauce and continue to stir for 1 minute more, or until very hot. Break the eggs one by one and stir into the rice; when they start to coagulate, turn into a shallow bowl and serve immediately.

STIR FRIED BEEF WITH ASPARAGUS AND SNOW PEAS

1 pound lean sirloin steak, trimmed of fat

3 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon grated gingerroot

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon safflower oil

2 green onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths

1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into strips

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 cup snow peas, trimmed

Cut steak into thin strips. Place in a large bowl with sherry, sesame oil, gingerroot, and garlic. Let marinate 15 minutes. Heat wok over medium-high heat and add safflower oil. Stir-fry green onions, asparagus, and bell pepper for 2 minutes, then remove to a platter and keep warm in oven. Add steak and marinade to wok and stir-fry for 3 minutes. In a small bowl combine oyster sauce and arrowroot. Add to steak and cook for 1 minute. Add vegetable mixture and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Toss in snow peas, cover wok, and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately.

GINGER BROCCOLI

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon ginger, grated

3 green onions, chopped

1 1/2 pounds broccoli flowerets

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon honey

Heat oil in wok or skillet. Add ginger and green onions and cook gently for one minute, or until fragrant. Add broccoli and stir-fry for about two minutes, just until it loses its rawness. Combine soy sauce, vinegar and honey. Add to skillet and cook for one minute, or just until broccoli is tender. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

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