Being a busy, working mother, I find myself constantly searching for quick and easy meals that can be prepared in under an hour (at the most!). My guess is I’m not alone. Does this sound familiar? Pick the kids up from the bus, get them a snack, get them organized for soccer (which usually involves a 30 minute frustrating hunt for the missing shin guard), drop them off at the field, go pick up child number 2 from another sports activity, pick up child number 1 once their practice is over and then at about 7pm haul everyone home and face the daunting task of creating a healthy dinner that everyone will eat and enjoy. If this does sound familiar than I’d like to share my most favorite quick and easy cooking method, stir fry. If it doesn’t than I’m jealous and I hope you will enjoy this methodology nonetheless.
The thing I love most about stir fry is that I can prepare it in about 30 minutes or less and in one dish I can ensure that my family is getting both their protein and vegetables all in one. In addition, since it is so versatile, even if I haven’t had time to run to the store, I usually have 2-3 vegetables that are in the fridge that will work perfectly in my stir fry. For instance broccoli, snap peas, carrots and/or red peppers along with thinly sliced onions are usually in my produce drawer and are perfect in just about any stir fry.
The key to making stir fry simple and quick is to make sure that everything is chopped or sliced before you begin. All food for a stir-fry should be cut into bite-size pieces and be as uniform in size as possible. It is better to cut smaller pieces than larger because smaller pieces will cook quicker. Meat and fish should generally be cut into ¼” strips and then into 1” pieces. Vegetables can be cut in various ways and should be an attractive element to your stir fry.
We have many recipes for stir fry’s on Glutenfreeda.com, some call for more elaborate sauces and marinades, however, I am going to share my basic stir fry methodology for those quick weeknight meals. Other than vegetables and your choice of meat or fish there are a few ingredients that are, in my opinion, a must for a great stir fry: onions, garlic, fresh ginger root, and gf soy sauce.
Step 1: Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil (I prefer a mixture of peanut oil and sesame oil) to the pan and swirl until the pan is evenly coated.
Step 2: Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes or until just tender. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Transfer onions and garlic to a plate and set aside.
Step 3: Add more oil if necessary to lightly coat pan. Add the meat and stir fry until just cooked through – if red meat I like to pull it off the heat when it is still pink on the inside. When the meat is done transfer to the plate with the onions and garlic.
Step 4: Add the vegetables to the pan and sauté until just tender, usually about 5-7 minutes, depending on the vegetables.
Step 5: While the vegetables are cooking make your sauce. I usually combine about 2 tablespoon gf soy sauce, 2 tablespoon Mirin, a dash of sesame oil, plus a little more garlic and ginger. Whisk together 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of water separately then add to your sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste, if necessary, with a little gf hot sauce (Siracha is great) or honey or some other sweetener if you like it a bit sweet.
Step 6: Return the meat, onions and garlic to the pan with the vegetables and add your sauce. Stir fry for about another 5 minutes or until everything is heated back through and the sauce has thickened slightly. Serve immediately over steamed rice.
The other added benefit of this dish is it’s easy clean up – besides the cutting board and the dishes you only should have to clean 2 pans – one for the wok and one for the rice! So easy and so delicious. In fact, after writing this I think we will have stir fry tonight!
- Chef Jessica