Have you seen any of the Chipotle Documentary style spots? I would normally not endorse any chain and certainly not a fast food chain, but these videos are quite compelling. The Paul Willis Story is especially eye opening. I love bacon, but struggle with most of what is available on the market. Most bacon uses way too much crap and the animals are raised in such a way to destroy both the taste and the safety of the meat. We have been buying Niman Ranch bacon for quite some time and this confirms all of the reasons why. As usual, thanks to Marion Nestle for pointing this out.
Today, we continue our simple and delicious theme for those not-so-intrepid new chefs. This might seem like a more complicated recipe at first blush, but it is not at all. In fact, this is the first meal I ever learned to cook from scratch. There is also a lesson in this recipe. That lesson is that, unless you are baking and require an exact formula in order for a chemical reaction to occur (like bread rising) then “THERE ARE NO RULES.” One of the obstacles for a new cook is the concept of making mistakes. We are preparing a meal, not making rocket fuel. With the exception of a few basic health precautions, there can be no harm done.
Delicious food comes from the combination of great tasting, fresh ingredients and the creativity and confidence to try new things. Sure, there are certain combinations of ingredients that are tastier than others and there is some science behind that. But there are no hard and fast rules. Don’t drive yourself crazy. Use what you find, have fun and always remember, it’s just dinner.
The following list of ingredients are suggestions to choose from. For your own dish, use what you like and find to be fresh. You can make this with two ingredients or 10. Which ones and how many you use are completely up to you.
- Snow Peas
- Fresh Ginger
- Soy Sauce
- Fish Sauce (optional)
- Vegetable Oil
- Eggs (optional)
- Salt and Pepper
- Large Pan or Wok
- Medium Pan for Rice
- Wooden Spoon
- Chef’s Knife
- Cut your chosen vegetables into bite sized pieces.
- Put some rice on. Follow the instructions on the package. Basically, rice is 2 to 1 water to rice.
- Heat some oil in the bottom of the pan over medium heat. The amount will depend on how many vegetables you are going to cook. Use about a teaspoon per large handful. Regardless, you will not need more oil than a thin coat on the bottom of the pan. You can also use olive oil, but I find that it gives a more Mediterranean than Asian flavor, which is what I generally go for with Stir Fry.
- If you are using onions, fresh ginger and/or garlic, I would saute it first.
- Add the rest of the vegetables to the pan, starting with the hardest (carrot and celery) and finishing with the softest (apple, mushrooms, etc). Cook the vegetables as much as you want. If you like them really crunchy, then only for a few minutes. I like them slightly soft. For me, the whole cooking time would be less than 30 minutes.
- Salt and pepper the vegetables as they cook. Stir occasionally, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom. The great thing about a wok is that you can move the cooked vegetables up the side and make room in the bottom for the new ingredients.
- When they are getting close to the consistency that you like, drizzle with some soy sauce, fish sauce or any other flavor that you might like. That red Thai paste is nice, and so is a little rice wine vinegar. Look in your pantry and fridge and pick a few things. Experiment.
- If you want, you can stir the cooked rice into your vegetables, dig a little hole to expose the bottom of the pan and cook a couple of eggs, stirring in as they cook. You can alternately just serve the stir fry over rice and skip this step.
- Adjust seasonings and maybe add a bit more soy sauce.
I cannot emphasize enough that you can’t screw this up. And when you get it right you will realize that cooking is fun, relaxing and easy.