Chef Sizzle-Snap (my kitchen-maverick-son) and I disagree: he believes that you pick a recipe and follow it to the letter. Anything missing? Run to the store!
What’s in the fridge?
I believe that your cooking should accommodate your preferences and your inventory. I am constantly swapping out one thing for another, depending on what is available and convenient. This horrifies and disgusts my son 😂. (But he’s a teenager, so I am very uncool no matter what I do or how hard I try).
Anyway, during the Quarantine Days (which are hopefully long behind us) I encouraged my readers to make do with whatever you had and to be creative and experiment in the kitchen. Hopefully you got comfortable with being more flexible and had some “wins”.
Let’s dive into the worlds easiest arena to mix and match: the Glorious Stir Fry.
Make it your own
I started with a classic Chinese recipe and adapted it. Typical core ingredients are:
- garlic, onion, ginger, scallions, carrots, red pepper, Japanese eggplant, and broccoli. Leafy greens like bok choy are also common.
- Asian sauce
We changed it up a bit. We used cauliflower and the other kind of eggplant (fresh from the farmers’ market). I don’t like cornstarch (or most corn products) and prefer avocado or olive to sesame. I asked Chef Sizzle-Snap to come up with his own sauce. He mixed:
- soy sauce
- olive oil
- white wine
He played with it till he liked the taste and then tried to remember the quantities 😯.
Here we go!Print
- 6 medium carrots or 3 large ones
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 4 small or 1 Japanese eggplant
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms ( we used chestnut)
- 4 small or 1 large red pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- thumb size of ginger
- 1/2 large onion
- 2 strands shallots
- avocado oil
- 3 Tbsp non-GMO soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 3 Tbsp mustard
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup wine
- Chop, slice, and dice! There’s no wrong way to do it. Carrots and eggplant can be cut once lengthwise and then into smaller pieces horizontally.
- Whisk together all the liquids. Start with soy and mustard, then add honey, salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill a large saucepan with an inch of water. When boiling, add chopped cauliflower florets.
- Soak eggplant in a bowl of water for 30 min, or add it to the boiling cauliflower to pre-soften.
- Heat oil in wok or large saucepan on medium heat.
- Add garlic, ginger, scallion and onions. Stir one minute.
- Add carrot, peppers. Stir three minutes.
- Add mushrooms. Stir three minutes.
- Add in precooked cauliflower and eggplant. If you pre-soaked the eggplant but did not precook it, add it in #3. Toss for three minutes.
- Add wine, stir for two minutes.
- Add sauce, stir, taste, decide if it’s ready! If still a bit hard, cook a bit longer.
In our test, the eggplant came out a bit bitter. The solution is to soak it first (30 min) or blanche it for 5 minutes in boiling water. Some foodies suggest soaking in milk or sprinkling on salt to draw out the bitterness. You can try any of the above.
We blanched the cauliflower in a separate saucepan and this worked fantastically. It was soft but not too soft. Since cauliflower is denser than broccoli, the blanching time will be a bit longer. Strain it when it’s just the right firmness for your tastes—remember that it won’t cook much more in the wok.
Enhance with ground lamb. Chef sizzle-snap and I argue about when it should be added. He likes cooking it first, in a little olive oil, then removing from pan and setting aside, and adding at the end. I like to throw it in raw as the veggies are cooking, which I think is also easier. You pick!
Spoon over cauliflower rice, quinoa, almond flour pasta, or chickpea pasta. I need to remind myself to do a blogpost on gluten free pastas because I have now tried at least 12 kinds. Spoiler alert: we prefer the almond-egg and chickpea varieties.
Note: There’s a lot of chopping and stirring here. It’s a fun activity if you can engage other household members. Here are some ways to split up the tasks:
- finding ingredients in the fridge
- washing ingredients
- cutting ingredients
- adding into wok
There’s something for every age!
Trust me that kids will like the dish better if they had a hand in making it.
- Let kids know that if they don’t like an ingredient they can remove it (This will only work for the larger chunks of food)
- They can try different toppings to adjust the taste! Examples are peanuts (or any nut they like), raisins, hempseeds, cilantro, parmesan crisp bits, salted pumpkin seeds, crushed sunflower seeds, crunchy roasted chickpeas, or crushed grain-free tacos.
For best nutrition and taste, don’t overcook the veggies! They should still be bright and a bit crisp. However, let your taste buds guide you.
Feel free to adjust the recipe. Want it spicier? Add hot sauce. Missing your leafy greens? Add bok choy or kale! Hate eggplant? Leave it out? Honestly, this dish is a winner because it’s so adaptable.
Let me know in the comments below how it went!
BONUS! You can actually buy this recipe as a piece of artwork or greeting card! Here is a link to my Etsy store. I think a pair would be fantastic in the kitchen or kids’ room.
Have a sumptuous meal!
-your Good Food Fighter