Sunday, September 13, 2009

Making a Stir-Fry - Step 3 - Cooking and Eating the Stir-Fry

Alright, everything's cut up, your stir-fry sauce is made (or purchased for you lazy bastiches out there), you’ve decided which starch you’re using (or, like me for the years I didn’t know about rice noodles, decided that starch is for sissies). It’s time to cook this sonuvagun.

OK, first thing, heat your pan on the stovetop at medium-high heat (about 6 if the dial on your range features numbers) and toss in the sauce, ginger and garlic (or, if you decide to make the sauce well ahead of time, add the ginger and garlic to the sauce, it’ll spread the flavours out in the sauce). Wait till it’s bubbling, then add other ingredients. Now, when you add the other ingredients is a bit tricky. So, I’ll break it down this way:

- chicken/pork/beef (the latter two if cubed), carrots: add first, cook for 5 minutes then add rest of veggies
- pork/beef (if sliced thin): add first, cook for 3 minutes, and then add rest of veggies
- veggies: toss in based on instructions above, stir-fry (as in stir with a spatula while it fries) for about 10 minutes or until veggies reach desired tenderness and meat is fully cooked
- shrimp/scallops: these actually take less time than veggies, so add them after about 2 minutes of cooking the veggies.

Once all ingredients are cooked, either toss in noodles if using, or spoon over hot cooked rice (or over nothing). I usually eat my stir-fries in a bowl to keep the sauce from spilling.

Now, here comes the last of choices: how to eat a stir-fry? Do you use a fork or dare to use chopsticks. Well, it depends on a few things: 1 – How clumsy are you? 2 – How hungry are you? 3 – Will it impress your date? I think once you figure that out, you’ll be up for the challenge.

So, that’s it for the stir-fry. My next entry will focus less on meal making and more on important ingredients.

Until then, Excelsior!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Making a Stir-Fry - Step 2 – Dealing with Starch

OK, the several billion people who consume rice as their main food staple probably know something I don’t. Like how to cook it properly. But, I am not one of them. For me, cooking rice has always been hit-and-miss, with miss commanding a strong lead. That being said, I feel it necessary to discuss the intricacies of a) making rice and b) finding easier alternatives to using rice to accompany our stir-fry.

So, making rice. Well, in my experience, I’ve had the best luck with Jasmine rice, which is the staple rice in Thailand. I haven’t successfully attempted cooking any other kind in recent memory. There is a plethora of different types of rice used throughout the world (it’s a bit intimidating: The basic rule with cooking rice is to follow the instructions on the package TO THE LETTER! Rice isn’t one of those things you can experiment with, it just doesn’t work. So, that’s about it for my grand wisdom on cooking rice.

But, that being said, I highly recommend going with plan B: using rice noodles or vermicelli. If you’ve ever eaten at a Vietnamese pho restaurant, you’ve probably noticed that they use a variety of rice-based noodles, some thicker like fettuccine, others super thin like Angel hair pasta. Well, any of these is a much easier alternative to grain rice. You can find these kinds of noodles in the Asian food section of your super market. Basically, cook similarly to pasta (as per the instructions on the package). There’s a bit of a difference in that you will cook the noodles, then cool them off, mix them with some sort of oil to loosen them up, then toss them in with the stir-fry. I really like going with this kind of dish instead of rice because it somehow feels more satisfying as a meal, and it’s easier to eat noodles with chopsticks.

So, that’s about it. We’ll get back to the actual stir-fry next time.