Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stir-Fry Tips and Tricks

We love stir-fry at my house. It's healthy, inexpensive, and always a little different. We all use some variation of chopsticks (for some kid-sized ones, see here). It's becoming our go-to meal for a quick, healthy meal. Here's what I've learned:

  1. Have it all ready: Stir-fry is incredibly easy if you have everything prepped before you begin the cooking part. I often chop veggies (and meat/tofu) during the kids' naptime and hold it in various bowls until dinner. Then, I measure out all seasonings and liquids into tiny prep bowls before I begin. (This is pretty crucial--even if you don't have young children at home).
  2. Have the right ingredients: Soy sauce from the Asian grocery store tastes better! I promise. We did a small taste test, pitting Kroger brand, Kikkoman, and the Asian stuff.... Much better and more "dimensional" instead of merely salty. Rice wine and rice vinegar can be found in your local grocery store, but they, too, will taste better if you get the real deal from the Asian store (and will be much, much cheaper).
  3. Be willing to experiment and combine whatever veggies you have lingering in your crisper. Carrots, onions, broccoli, cabbage, and peppers are all frequent "players" in our stir-fries, but we've recently discovered the joys of bok choy and other Asian greens as well.
  4. If you're going the marinade route (and I recommend it), you can freeze the meat in the marinade ahead of time; stir-fry is that much easier to "whip up."
  5. Rice also freezes; I usually make a big batch and have it bagged in the freezer in meal-size portions.
  6. Work with your kids: Since you stir-fry the ingredients in batches, just hold some out from the final combination if your kids don't like something. We frequently serve stir-fry to our children as follows: rice in one pile (doused with teriyaki sauce), veggies they like in another, meat in a third pile. They happily eat it up this way, but for some reason still don't want it all mixed up. We sometimes sneak a piece of cabbage or red pepper in, and sometimes it gets eaten with gusto! Just the other night, one formerly carrot-hating son wolfed down carrots and bell peppers.
Our favorite stir-fries:

  • Perfect stir-fry (we've recently had this with tofu marinated instead of chicken and it was INHALED by our children; we froze the tofu so it would be chewier...)
  • Tofu Stir-Fry with Vegetables (coming this week)
  • Stir-Fried Asian Veggies (coming this week)

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