Quick and Healthy Stir-Fry

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My college freshman son was just home for the holidays, and I wanted to make a few of his favorite home-cooked meals. Trouble was, I needed a recipe that I could make (or not) with little-to-no notice, since college kids and planning are not copacetic.

That recipe search led me to an old favorite: beef stir-fry. When my son’s not home, I make this with chicken, but last week I made it with his far-preferred protein, beef.  And as a bow to lo-co, I made one healthy modification by cutting down on the beef and upping the vegetables.  Shocker: it turns out he liked it that way. In fact, he actually declared it one of the best stir-fries I’d ever made.

So they do learn some good things in college.

And some bad things too.  But that’s a different story.

But back to stir-fry. Just back from the grocery store, I was chatting with my neighbor Christine, wondering aloud if I was making the stir-fry that evening, or if my son was going out with friends for dinner, last minute, again. Christine said she liked stir fry but never made it because it never turned out well – always got mushy.

I said the trick is all about the vegetables. You have to briefly steam them first, then stir fry and remove them from the wok while cooking the meat, then add them back later after the meat is cooked.  (Gosh, typing that makes it sound like a pain and a lot of steps… but overall this process takes, like, 4 minutes, max.)

That got me thinking that perhaps I should share this recipe. It’s easy to make and while I don’t have nutritional information so am not sure how lo-co it truly is, what I do know is that it’s an authentic Chinese stir-fry recipe (thanks, Dina!) that is mostly vegetables and heart-healthy oil. So other than the saltiness of the soy sauce, I think it’s quite healthy. Certainly more healthy than ordering MSG-laden take-out.  And some might argue it’s tastier, too.

Once you slice the vegetables (your choice of 2-3 vegetables) and beef and set aside upfront, this recipe is a snap to make. Three tricks to making this recipe great:

  1. Cut all the meat and vegetables first and set aside – mise en place is vital
  2. Make sure your wok is VERY HOT before you stir-fry either the vegetables or the meat
  3. See above for vegetable directions: you must steam them first (in microwave), stir fry briefly on high heat, then remove while you cook the meat.

After mise en place is done, the total cook time is about 5-10 minutes, max for this delicious, healthy dish.

If you’re hankering for a healthy stir-fry, try Karen’s Stir-Fry Recipe. And let me know how it goes.

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