I am happy to announce that my first change it up challenge meal was a success. So successful, in fact, that I am already planning on making it again next week.
The only unsuccessful thing of the night? Georgie lighting his butt on fire. Yes, you read that correctly. He lit his butt on fire while we were enjoying a sit down family dinner. You see, Georgie is a bit of a scrounger – if he smells or sees food, then he’s right there next to you begging for a bite. Dog or cat? I’m not so sure anymore.
Well, there just so happened to be a lit candle on the table. Nice family dinner, remember? Well, the candle met Georgie’s behind and the rest is history. Foul-smelling, singed hair, black soot all over my white carpet history. Fun times, I tell you.
So back to the food.
Up until this point, my stir fry attempts have been mediocre at best. Not because I haven’t had the right ingredients. Not even because my spices were off. But mostly, it was all about the texture. The wrong texture. Too much mush, not enough crunch to be exact.
And I think I have found the solution – the not-so-secret fix to my stir fry problems. Vegetables with crunch. And a whole lot of them. Baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, and water chestnuts. Oh my.
My dad also shared a little gem of stir fry wisdom – cook the vegetables separately.
You see, when you’re working with a variety of vegetables, you’re also looking at a variety of different cooking times. But the solution is pretty simple – cook the vegetable with the longest cook time first. Once cooked, remove from the pan, add another vegetable, and so on and so forth. Make certain to keep the pan nice and warm the entire time.
In hindsight, this seems obvious. But try telling that to my mushy stir fries of the past.
Of course, you can also combine the ingredients that have similar cooking times.
My Dad also instructed me to hit each new vegetable with a little salt and pepper rather than only seasoning the first or the last. This helps to bring out the flavors while the vegetables (and anything else really) are cooking.
He used to be a sous chef at a popular restaurant, so believe me when I say his tips come from experience. And learning to cook is definitely an experience, all right.
So that sounds easy enough, right? Luckily, it was.
Let’s start at the beginning.
The marinade and sauce.
Tofu for Adam and I.
Chicken for Sam.
[baby bok choy, water chestnuts, sugar snap peas, frozen stir fry medley from Costco]
- Prep the vegetables – chop, peel, drain and rinse.
- Cook the pasta. The noodles only take about 3 minutes in boiling water – so I found it easiest to cook, drain, and then forget about them until the end.
- Warm about 1.5 T. of peanut oil in a wok or large frying pan.
- Add the sugar snap peas and hit them with a little salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Next, remove the sugar snap peas from the pan and add the water chestnuts and frozen vegetables. Salt and pepper.
- Finally, add in the baby bok choy.
- Once the vegetables are warmed, add in the sugar snap peas, the cooked soba noodles and two or three tablespoons (to taste) of teriyaki sauce.
- Serve with marinated and baked tofu or sautéed chicken.
- For the tofu, drain and press it (to remove excess liquid). Marinate it for a few hours and then bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes (turning once).
I topped my stir fry off with Mama Pea’s Mmmm sauce. Mmmm, indeed.
Oh yes, stir fry will most definitely be holding a permanent place in my meal rotation. As will the Mmmm sauce – that stuff is fantastic. So, I’ve got one new meal down, two to go. Better get cooking!
Any stir fry tips or tricks to share? Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference.