Tag Archives: stir-fry

Ginger-Curry Pork and Green Beans

Identity crisis? This quick meat and vegetable curry starts as a stir-fry then finishes as a braise—but a quick braise. Usually pork shoulder takes hours to braise in the oven, but since the meat is cut into thin strips, the time dwindles considerably. Boneless pork shoulder has a rich, full flavor; plus slicing it thin before cooking counters its chewiness.

Green beans cook alongside, absorbing the spiced broth and providing a fresh, vegetal contrast. Curry powder is used as a flavor base, and whole spices amp up the intensity. Just remember to remove the cardamom pods before serving (if you can see them). The Hubs got quite a jolt when he accidentally bit into one!

In some cases you have choices on which spice to use. We incorporated as much of them as possible, i.e. both onion and garlic. And in the case of the noodles, you can always substitute steamed rice instead.

Ginger-Curry Pork and Green Beans

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 2-inch strips and sliced ¼ to ⅛ inch thick
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped OR 8 medium garlic cloves, chopped OR both
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed OR 1 cinnamon stick OR 8 curry leaves OR a combination
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • Rice OR cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions

Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the pork, curry powder, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the pork is well browned, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, ginger and cardamom; cook, stirring, until the onion is browned, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the beans and 1½ cups water; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the sauce clings to the meat, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your rice or cellophane noodles according to package directions.
  5. Remove and discard the cardamom from the sir-fry, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro OR toasted sesame seeds OR chopped chilies OR a combination

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Thai Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Coconut Rice

Thai stir-fries are one of our favorite go-to’s; and this recipe rachetes it up a notch with the addition of Thai cashews (find them at Trader Joe’s). And if you like bold flavors, then this will end up on your short list.

Originally from Milk Street, we scaled back on the chicken by 25%, but increased the bell pepper quotient by 100%, adding a yellow one along with the red pepper, making it more veggie-forward. Another change was doubling the sauce (except for the garlic). These alterations are noted in the recipe below.

And while you could pair it simply with steamed jasmine rice, you might want to try the Coconut Rice recipe below for even more depth of flavor.

I have to give a shout-out to these fabulous Trader Joe’s Thai cashews. Not only are they a fabulous snack right out of the bag, but they’re perfect for this dish. If you can get your hands on them, by all means do so.

NOTE: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.

Thai Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Coconut Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 4 tsp. white sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Ground white pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some of the dark green cut into smaller pieces for garnish
  • 1/2 cup roasted Thai cashews, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Start coconut rice, directions below.
  2. For the Stir-fry: In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir 1/2 cup water into the marinade and set aside.
  4. In a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.
  5. Heat a bit more oil in the wok, stir in the bell peppers and scallions. Stir-fry for several minutes until just starting to brown. Add chicken back to the veggies.
  6. Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Toss in the cashew pieces, cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
  7. Taste and season with white pepper. Spoon over cooked coconut rice and garnish with scallion greens.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water or water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 2-inch strips of lime zest

Directions

  1. Place jasmine rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clean. Drain well, it works best to tap base of sieve with your hand or against the sink.
  2. Heat coconut milk and coconut water in a medium non-stick saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, season with salt, sugar, lime zest strips add rice and bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid has been absorbed (you may find there’s a few small pools of liquid at the top and that’s fine), about 20 minutes.
  4. Uncover over low heat for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve warm.

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Adapted from a recipe by CookingClassy.com

Vegetable Fried Rice

Similar to it’s meat cousin, Pork-Fried Rice, this vegetable version with simple seasonings and a balance of mix-ins makes for a frugal and incredibly satisfying meal—or side dish. Typically you use day old rice, but if you cook rice like pasta, in other words in a lot of water with salt for 10 minutes then drain and cool it, you don’t have to make it ahead of time. Plus cooking it like pasta rids the raw grains of any surface starch so that it readily breaks apart into individual grains.

But, if you have leftover rice here’s the deal. Day-old jasmine rice works best; the varietal is loaded with a popcorn-y aromatic compound that perfumes the fried rice with gorgeous fragrance, and when stir-fried, the hard, dry clumps relax into tender-firm, distinct grains. All rice should be roughly room temperature when you stir-fry. 

To make fluffy, tender pockets of scrambled eggs, pour the raw beaten eggs into oil that is just smoking (not merely shimmering); the eggs will puff as their water rapidly turns to steam and their proteins set.

There’s no garlic or ginger to mince, no spices or curry paste to bloom, and no sauce to mix up, which keeps the prep work minimal and the backdrop neutral, not plain, simply highlighting the namesake ingredient: rice. However, you may want to serve with soy sauce on the side for those who wish a bit more flavor.

In case you are curious why this is labeled vegetarian, since they are not technically animal flesh, eggs are usually thought of as vegetarian. Eggs that have been fertilized and therefore have the potential to become an animal may not be considered vegetarian.

Vegetable Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 oz. white mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, room temperature
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup frozen peas

Directions

  1. Beat eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch carbon-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until oil is just smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
  2. Add eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until very little liquid egg remains, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to the large plate.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty wok and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to plate with eggs.
  4. Add scallion whites and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir until combined. (It’s OK if some clumps of rice remain.) Spread into even layer. Sprinkle pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt evenly over rice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and pressing on rice with spatula to break up clumps, until grains are separate and heated through, 2 to 5 minutes longer.
  5. Add peas, egg and mushroom mixture, and scallion greens and cook, stirring frequently and using edge of spatula to break eggs into small pieces, until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Kung Pao Cauliflower

Even though Kung Pao Chicken originated in China’s Sichuan Province, it has become an iconic Chinese-American dish. The popular stir-fry typically includes chicken, vegetables and peanuts tossed in a dark, salty, sweet and spicy sauce, but in this vegan take, cauliflower steps in for the chicken.

Dark soy sauce is more caramel-flavored and less salty than regular soy sauce, and it adds color and richness to the dish. If you don’t have dark soy, substitute with regular soy sauce or hoisin sauce.

Make sure you have a lid for your skillet or wok on hand before you start cooking, as covering the cauliflower allows it to cook quicker and more evenly. And as with any stir-fry, always prep each ingredient ahead of cooking because you won’t have time in between.

Now, The Hubs inadvertently made more sauce than called for. He was using the “ounce” side of the small measuring cup instead of the “tablespoon” side. So he ended up doubling the soy sauces, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. The vegetable stock remained at 1/4 cup. It ended up being a good mistake, as we tend to prefer our stir-fries on the saucier side anyway.

Kung Pao Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. black vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), cut into small 2-inch-long florets
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, core, seeds and membrane removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns, lightly ground in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or crushed with a rolling pin
  • 8 whole dried chiles, such as er jing tiao or chiles de árbol
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 piece ginger, (1-inch) peeled and finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
  • Steamed rice, to serve

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dark soy sauce, soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, vegetable stock or water, and cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. Heat wok or large (12-inch) skillet on medium-high until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, the cauliflower florets and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and toss for 1 minute. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing the cauliflower every 1 1/2 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is crisp-tender and charred in some parts. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same wok or skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of neutral oil, along with the bell pepper. Toss for 1 minute, then add the Sichuan peppercorns and whole dried chiles, and stir for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir for 30 seconds, then add the cauliflower back to the pan. Stir the sauce in the bowl to make sure the cornstarch is well incorporated, then pour it over the cauliflower and toss until the cauliflower is well coated.
  5. Toss in the peanuts and scallions, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Serve with rice.

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Recipe from Hetty McKinnon for The NY Times Cooking

Stir-Fried Pork and Sweet Peppers with Peanuts

Yes indeed, the flavors in this colorful stir-fry from Milk Street are a fantastic combination of savory, sweet, tangy, garlicky, spicy and nutty. The chili-garlic sauce can be moderated depending on your tolerance for spicy, and those peanuts add just the right amount of crunch.

Briefly marinating the sliced tenderloin means that the meat browns beautifully in the skillet and also adds flavor and moisture to an otherwise lean and mild cut. Balsamic vinegar may seem like an odd ingredient in a stir-fry, but it mimics the subtle sweetness, moderate acidity and maltiness of Chinese black vinegar and probably already is in your pantry. Serve with steamed white rice.

Instead of a nonstick skillet, we used a well-seasoned wok. The Hubs swears you get a hotter heat with the added benefit of pushing ingredients up the sides.

Warning: Don’t use a conventional (that is not nonstick) skillet. The pork will char and stick to the skillet instead of nicely browning.

Stir-Fried Pork and Sweet Peppers with Peanuts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and sliced crosswise ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
  • 3 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. dry sherry, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, 1 minced, 2 thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2-3 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 medium red, yellow or orange bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1- to 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, whites thinly sliced, greens cut into 1½-inch lengths, reserved separately
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the pork, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the minced garlic and the cornstarch. Let stand for about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sherry, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce and vinegar.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat another 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Add the pork in an even layer and cook, stirring once or twice, until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add the scallion whites and sliced garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Add the pork and accumulated juices, sauce mixture and scallion greens; cook, stirring, until the sauce is lightly thickened, 30 to 60 seconds.
  7. Off heat, stir in half the peanuts. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.

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Adapted from a recipe by Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Stir-Fried Chili Garlic Duck Breast

As with most stir-fries, this one is quick and tasty, perfect for a weeknight meal. Originally from EatingWell Magazine, we altered the ingredients by doubling the sauce, and amping up the amount of shiitake mushrooms. And if you’re squeamish about eating duck, go ahead and substitute pork tenderloin, chicken or even beef strips.

Stir-Fried Chili Garlic Duck Breast

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 8 oz. boneless duck breast, skin removed and cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced bok choy
  • 7-8 shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Steamed rice, prepared as per package directions

Directions

  1. Prepare steamed rice according to package directions.
  2. Whisk chili-garlic sauce, water, vinegar, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Cook the duck, in a single layer, stirring once, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add garlic and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli and bok choy; cook, stirring, until the broccoli is bright green, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the chili-garlic sauce mixture; cook, stirring often, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  6. Return the duck and any accumulated juices to the pan; stir to coat with the sauce. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

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`Adapted from a recipe in EatingWell Magazine

Soy-Glazed Flank Steak with Blistered Green Beans

This Asian steak entrée gets loads of complexity from just a spoonful or two of flavor powerhouses like fresh ginger, peanut oil, and Asian chili paste, like sambal oelek—an Indonesian chile that adds a nice level of heat and a hint of sweetness to the quick stir-fry.

You definitely want to blister those beans, so keep stirring for 5-plus minutes over a very hot burner. Then when it’s time to cook the meat, it’s best to do so in two batches so as to sear the steak instead of steaming it.

Soy-Glazed Flank Steak with Blistered Green Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1 lb. beef flank steak
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 4 green onions (white parts only), sliced diagonally
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet rice wine (mirin)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Asian chili paste (sambal oelek)
  • Sesame seeds, toasted; hot cooked rice; snipped fresh herbs; chopped green onion (optional)
  • Steamed rice according to package directions

Directions

  1. If desired, trim and cut green beans in half diagonally.
  2. Trim fat from meat. Thinly slice meat across the grain into bite-size strips.
  3. In a small bowl combine garlic and ginger.
  4. In an extra-large skillet or wok heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans; cook and stir 7 to 8 minutes or until blistered and brown in spots. Remove beans and drain on paper towels.
  5. If necessary, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to hot skillet. Add garlic mixture; cook and stir 30 seconds.
  6. Add meat, half at a time; cook and stir 3 minutes or until slightly pink in center. Return all of the meat to skillet. Add the next five ingredients (through chili paste); cook and stir 1 minute.
  7. Return beans; cook and stir 2 minutes more or until heated through.
  8. If desired, sprinkle meat mixture with sesame seeds and/or serve with rice sprinkled with herbs, chopped green onion, and/or coarse salt.
  9. Serve over steamed rice.

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Adapted from a recipe for Fine Cooking Magazine

Dry-Fried Sichuan-Style Green Beans with Shrimp

Instead of leaning on a sauce, “dry” stir-fries like this recipe use a small amount of liquid (in this case, fish sauce), relying on heat and movement in the wok to intensify each ingredient’s flavors. To ensure that the beans blister, dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel before cooking. Pickled sushi ginger adds mild, well-balanced sweetness and a hint of spice.

Where we took fault with this recipe as written, were the quantities. There is no way only 6 shrimp and the remaining ingredients would serve four adult portions, no way! So we doubled the shrimp from 6 to 12, and that amplified the volume enough for two decent servings. Those changes are noted in the recipe below.

Since this sauce-less dry-fry wouldn’t necessarily require a bed of rice, we opted for pan-fried dumplings. Trader Joe’s has a nice selection and we just happen to have some in our freezer. Russ whipped up a simple, yet tasty, dumpling dipping sauce (recipe below), and dinner done!

Dry-Fried Sichuan-Style Green Beans with Shrimp

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. peeled and deveined raw large shrimp (about 12 shrimp) 
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided 
  • 12 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups) 
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt 
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions 
  • 1Tbsp. fish sauce 
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow pickled ginger, minced
  • ¼ tsp. granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Pat shrimp dry using paper towels. Chop shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside. 
  2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil. Add beans, and sprinkle with salt; reduce heat to medium-low so that beans are barely sizzling.
  3. Cook, making quick scooping motions with a metal spatula, constantly tossing and tumbling (stir-frying) the beans until they just begin to blister and brown in spots and are almost tender, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer beans to a plate.
  4. Increase heat under wok to high, and swirl in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add garlic; cook, stir-frying constantly, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
  5. Add chopped shrimp, and break up any clumps using a metal spatula; cook, stir-frying constantly, until shrimp just take on an orange-pink hue, about 1 minute.
  6. Return beans to wok, and add scallions, fish sauce, pickled ginger, and sugar; cook, stir-frying constantly, until shrimp are just cooked through and beans are tender, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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Recipe by Grace Young for Food & Wine

Dumpling Dipping Sauce

  • Servings: Yields 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dumpling Dipping Sauce

This easy, flavorful dipping sauce is the perfect condiment for a range of homemade or store-bought dumplings. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese chile garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped scallion slices

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce with the rice vinegar, chile-garlic sauce and sesame oil.
  2. Top with chopped scallion, then serve.

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Recipe from Food & Wine

Chicken and Corn Stir-Fry, Oh My!

You’ll enjoy this unusual stir-fry combination utilizing fresh corn kernels cut from the cob. The corn, along with rice, does lean toward a carb-heavy meal, but it is so satisfying and full of flavor. Coating the chicken pieces in cornstarch thickens the sauce at the end so that it clings to the meat and veggies.

Rarely overpowering, oyster sauce is packed with umami and adds tons of depth to stir-fries like this one, boosting flavor in marinades, and just being all-around incredibly delicious. No ripe corn at the market? Bon Appétit suggests to swap in peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash.

As with any stir-fry, make sure to chop and prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because once you start cooking, the process goes incredibly fast and you need to keep swinging that metal spatula around.

Chicken and Corn Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb.), cut into 1” pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. (or more) Aleppo-style pepper or other mild chile flakes
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • Steamed rice and cilantro leaves with tender stems (for serving)

Directions

  1. Stir together oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Season with salt and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss lightly to coat.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. To the wok, add red onion, garlic, ginger, Aleppo-style pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add corn and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 3 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to wok with vegetables.
  7. Stir in reserved oyster sauce mixture and cook, tossing often, until reduced nearly to a glaze, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  8. Serve stir-fry with rice, topped with cilantro.

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Adapted from a recipe by Chris Morocco for Bon Appétit

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews

When it comes to Thai food, the cuisine ranks among the top of our ethnic food preferences. This classic from Milk Street, Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews raised the bar as the best version we’ve made at home. We pretty much followed the recipe to a T, except exchanging a medium-large red pepper in place of the small one. Oh, and of course we increased the amount of cashews 😉

Milk Street’s version uses mostly pantry staples and can be on the table in about 30 minutes. The chicken marinates for 15 minutes before cooking, and you can prep the bell pepper and scallions in the meantime. Serve the stir-fry with steamed jasmine rice.

Tip: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.

With stir-fries, most commonly we use our carbon steel wok, but our large cast-iron skillet happened to be sitting on the stovetop that evening, so it became the vehicle of choice. Choose your weapon—I mean skillet—according to your own preference, but don’t use a non-stick otherwise the chicken won’t brown well, if at all.

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. white sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some thinly sliced greens for garnish
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, more for garnish if desired

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and ¾ teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir ¼ cup water into the marinade and set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the bell pepper, scallions and cashews. Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with white pepper.

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Stir-Fried Pork and Green Beans

Sweet, Sour and Hot… no, this is not a romantic novel review. Hitting all the right notes, this quick and easy stir-fry, packs in savoriness from fish sauce and garlic, sweetness from a little sugar and spicy heat from pepper flakes. Thin slices of ultra-tender pork contrast the crisp snap of green beans, preferably haricot verts.

We took it a step further and added a bunch of scallions, the white and light green parts were stir-fried with the green beans, and the dark green slices were added as a garnish along with the chopped cilantro. Next time we intend to toss in some red bell pepper strips too, which will add a nice pop of color along with extra nutrients.

In addition, we doubled the sauce, which at first we thought might have been too much. But in the end, it was the perfect amount to coat the pork and veggies. I made the adjustments in the list of ingredients below. Serve with steamed rice, and if you like, additional fish sauce at the table.

Caution, don’t stir the beans and pork too often. Stirring just once or twice during cooking allows them to char and develop flavor. Also, don’t forget to stir the sauce mixture just before adding it to the skillet, as the cornstarch settles to the bottom upon standing. In our opinion, we feel using a wok is a much better vehicle for getting a good char when stir-frying.

Stir-Fried Pork and Green Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.white sugar
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 8 oz. green beans, cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly, white and light green parts divided from dark green
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices (optional)
  • 1¼ pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, pepper flakes and ¼ cup water. Set aside.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beans and scallion whites and light green slices. Cook, stirring once or twice, until charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. If you are using red bell pepper, stir-fry them next as you did the green beans. When slightly charred, add to same bowl as beans.
  4. In the same pan over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the pork in an even layer. Cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Return the beans (and red pepper, if using) to the pan, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Whisk the fish sauce mixture to recombine, then add to the pan and reduce to medium. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce thickens slightly and clings to the meat, about 60 seconds. Off heat, stir in the cilantro. Garnish with scallion greens.

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Adapted from a recipe from Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry Revisited

It was finally the last of our 8-pound ham which was earmarked to be used in this Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry recipe. Nearly seven years had passed since we resurrected it from when I first started this blog. Why did we wait so long? Who knows, but it’s not often that we have a large ham with plenty of leftovers.

Once we practically licked our plates clean, we decided the next time we make this we’ll double the sauce (we are saucy people!) And as with most stir-fries, make sure to prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because the actual on-hands cooking portion takes just minutes.

Spicy and sweet, this quick stir-fry dinner needed only short-grain sticky rice to complete it. In lieu of waiting to have leftover ham, you could always buy 1 1/2 pounds of ham steak and cube that up.

Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. kecap manis*
  • 2 Tbs. plain rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. sambal oelek
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 6 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh lemongrass
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces (2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1-1/2 lb. leftover ham, cut into medium dice (4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth

*TIP: If you don’t have or can’t find keycap manis (and again we couldn’t), a syrupy Indonesian soy sauce, you can substitute 1-1/2 Tbs. soy sauce combined with 1-1/2 Tbs. unsulfured molasses.

Directions:

  1. Whisk the keycap manis (or your substitute), vinegar, and sambal oelek in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat a 14-inch wok or heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot, then swirl in the oil. Add the scallions, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry until softened, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the green beans, bell pepper, and peanuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the ham and stir-fry until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour in the broth, scrape up any browned bits, and bring to a boil.
  6. Pour in the kecap manis mixture and stir-fry until bubbling and the ingredients are thoroughly coated in the sauce, about 2 minutes.
  7. Serve over hot rice.

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Recipe adapted from By Mark Scarbrough, Bruce Weinstein for Fine Cooking

Szechuan Pork Stew and Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

For those of you who favor bold Asian dishes, you’re going to want to put this recipe on your short list. It used to be that the only place to experience Szechuan cooking was China’s Sichuan province—a region located in the southwestern part of the country. But it is quite common just about everywhere now.

Though it is particularly unique in that Szechuan cooking is known for its dishes loaded with beef, rice, vegetables and, of course, Szechuan (or Sichuan) pepper. Although the main protein in this dish is pork.

Szechuan pepper is the trademark ingredient in Szechuan cuisine, however it doesn’t carry a lot of heat because it’s not even a pepper! Instead the regional spice is made from tiny peppercorns made from the dried husk of an ash shrub. These tiny pink peppercorns provide a kick of citrusy flavor that marries well with ingredients like ginger, soy and steamed veggies.

I didn’t notice until after I made and ate this fabulous dish, that I had completely forgotten to include the 1 tablespoon of sugar in the pork marinade. But we didn’t miss it at all, so if you have scaled back on sugar in your diet, then I would say it is OK to eliminate it here.

At the very end of the cooking process, we weren’t satisfied with how thin the liquid in the stew appeared. Russ made a last minute decision to make a slurry from corn starch and water to thicken the sauce. It only took another couple of minutes, and not only coated the meat nicely, it gave a more substantial appearance overall.

Szechuan Pork Stew with Chiles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • 2 lb. pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. five-spice

For the Stew:

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • 1 knob ginger (about 2 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 10 whole dried red chiles
  • 1 Tbsp. Szechuan peppercorns (about 1/4 oz.), cracked
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 1 Tbsp. water for slurry (optional)
  • 4 scallions (both white and green parts), thinly sliced

Directions

Make the Marinade:

  1. Toss the pork cubes with the soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, sugar, and five-spice powder. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or, cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. (We marinaded for 8 hours.)

Make the Stew:

  1. Sprinkle the pork with the cornstarch and toss to coat.
  2. Heat a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, and when it’s shimmering, add half of the pork in an even layer, Cook, undisturbed, until browned around the edges, and pork lifts easily with tongs, about 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Flip, and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Repeat the process with the remaining half of the pork.
  6. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the ginger, garlic, szechuan peppers and chiles. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 2 minutes.
  7. Add the broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  8. Add the pork and any accumulated juices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender, about 1 hour.
  9. To make a thicker sauce, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1 tablespoon of cold water and mix until smooth. Heat the pot until a simmering boil and add the slurry a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir together for 30 seconds.
  10. Serve immediately over steamed jasmine rice.

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Adapted from a recipe for Fine Cooking

Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

Chinese broccoli, also known as Chinese kale, is a leafy green vegetable closely related to thick-stemmed broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. It has flat leaves, thick stems, and tiny florets. It’s not easy to find Chinese broccoli in regular grocery stores, so check your local Asian market, which is more likely to carry it.

Chinese Broccoli with Garlic

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Chinese broccoli, trimmed and cut into small sections
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
  • 2 tsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Directions

  1. Trim Chinese broccoli, remove the hard skins and diagonally cut into 2″ sections. Separate the leaves and roughly chop.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add salt. Add the stems, cooking for 20 seconds. Add the leaves and cook for 10 seconds more. (This helps remove some bitterness.) Drain into a colander.
  3. Add oil in preheated wok and stir-fry the garlic until slightly seared, about 1 minute. 
  4. Place Chinese broccoli into wok, add cooking wine and sesame oil. Stir-fry several seconds to mix well and serve immediately.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe found on chinasichuanfood.com

Kung Pao Chicken

In this Kung Pao Chicken recipe, the dark, rich sauce clings to the chicken and veggies, with just an undertone of heat and aromatic flavor from the chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. I’m typically a white meat fan, but here we used boneless, skinless dark thigh meat which imparts more flavor. Use whatever suits your preference.

Have you been confused before on the difference between Kung Pao and General Tso’s chicken recipes? The main difference between the two is how the meat is cooked. General Tso is fried in a crispy coating, however Kung Pao Chicken is seared in the wok. Both are coated in a similar sauce, but Kung Pao typically always has veggies and peanuts mixed in.

Plus, Kung Pao Chicken is a healthy choice for most people, containing a range of vitamins and minerals, as well as complete protein. It is also low in saturated fat and calories. To up the ante in nutrition, fiber and color, I added a yellow bell pepper and some snow peas.

Because of these extra ingredients, I altered the directions to accommodate them. Instead of adding the veggies with the chicken still in the wok, we moved the poultry to a bowl while we stir-fried the peppers and snow peas, then added the chicken back to the wok before stirring in the broth mixture.

As with most stir-fries, this process goes very quickly so make sure to prep everything BEFORE you start cooking. Keep in mind, rice typically takes about 20 minutes total, so it’s best you start that process first. And don’t omit those roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns. A half teaspoon may seem like a minor nuisance, but they add a necessary flavor component. Serve with steamed rice, preferably cooked in homemade chicken stock.

Kung Pao Chicken

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 to 8 dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end
  • 1/2 tsp. roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 6 0z. snow peas, strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal if large
  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions
  • Steamed white or brown rice for serving
Add the peanuts and scallions.

Directions

  1. Before you begin prepping the stir-fry ingredients, start the rice according to package directions, preferably using homemade chicken stock as the liquid.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.
  3. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the chillies and ground Sichuan peppercorns, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 15 seconds or until the chillies just begin to smoke.
  4. Push the chili mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through. Move to a bowl.
  5. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil into the wok. Add the bell peppers and snow peas then stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Add the chicken back to the wok. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is just cooked through.
  6. Add the peanuts and scallions, sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the scallions are bright green.
  7. Serve over white or brown steamed rice.

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Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce

Stir-frying is the name of the game when you want something quick and healthy. And making it yourself ensures you know exactly what’s in it, as compared to many Asian take-out places loaded with unwanted fat and calories. Cook’s Illustrated found that marinating pork tenderloin in a simple soy-sherry mixture and cooking it quickly (about two minutes) in batches over high heat kept the meat tender and beautifully seasoned. In place of the sherry, we substituted Shaoxing wine which is fermented from rice.

Because different vegetables cook at different rates, batch-cook the vegetables and add aromatics (like ginger and garlic) at the end so they are cooked long enough to develop their flavors but not long enough to burn. Chicken broth gives the sauce some backbone, and cornstarch slightly thickens it so that it lightly cloaks the meat and veggies.

We increased the amount of pork tenderloin from the original 12 ounces to one pound. And because of that, we doubled the soy sauce and sherry that gets mixed with the pork strips (which is all noted below). Keep in mind that pork tenderloin is easier to slice if it is partially frozen. *Freeze the tenderloin until firm but not frozen solid, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then cut the tenderloin crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch strips.

Stir-frying isn’t rocket science, and that’s what’s so great about it. It doesn’t require lots of fancy equipment. Instructions indicate to cook in a skillet, however we feel most stir-fries benefit from being cooked in a flat-bottomed wok. It helps to have a stir-fry spatula which fits the contour of the wok and has a long handle (to keep distance from the intense heat).

Stir frying is advantageous over other methods of cooking as it requires very little oil, which is healthier than deep frying or pan frying, and it also retains the nutrients present in the food being stir fried. As the name indicates, the food is constantly stirred while you cook it. Make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, canola, safflower, soybean, etc.

Stir-Fried Pork, Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper with Gingery Oyster Sauce

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, prepared as noted above*
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry, or Shaoxing wine
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 12 oz. green beans, cut on bias into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 large red bell pepper (about 8 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch squares
  • 3 medium scallions, sliced thin on bias
  • Jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions (or brown rice if you prefer)

Directions

  1. Combine pork, soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. + 1 teaspoon sherry in small bowl. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, white pepper, and cornstarch in measuring cup.
  2. Combine garlic, ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking; add half of pork to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up clumps, until well-browned, about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer pork to medium bowl. Repeat with additional 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining pork.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to bowl with pork.
  6. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to skillet; add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 2 minutes.
  7. Clear center of skillet, then add garlic/ginger mixture to clearing; cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 45 seconds, then stir mixture into peppers.
  8. Add pork and green beans; toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds.
  9. Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with scallions and serve over hot jasmine rice.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated