How To Make An Authentic, Healthy Stir-Fry Dinner
Previously published on Answers.com.
Stir-fry can be a very heart healthy dinner — if you know what’s in it. Ordering takeout stir-fry can be risky: takeout is likely cooked with a lot of non-heart-healthy oil and can be laden with MSG. The good news is that stir-fry is actually a pretty easy dish to make at home. All you need is the patience to chop all your meat and vegetables up front, and a wok – and frankly, if you don’t have a wok, a large saute or fry pan will work as well.
A common issue with home-cooked stir-fry is soggy vegetables. I’ve included in this recipe the four tricks I’ve found to a deliciously crisp stir-fry: a) cut up all your vegetables and meat up front and set aside, b) make sure your wok or pan is VERY HOT before you add vegetables or meat, c) steam the vegetables in a microwave for just a bit before stir-frying, and d) cook in batches – it’s important to NOT overcrowd the pan. If you just follow the recipe – which I adapted from a Chinese friend – and you’ll be enjoying a healthy, authentic stir-fry in no time.
- Beef or chicken, cubed into bite size pieces – about 1 pound.
- Vegetables – also in bite size pieces – any combination of broccoli, carrots (bias sliced or shredded), string beans, snowpeas (not sliced obviously). About double the amount of meat.
- Sliced mushrooms – about 1 small package: more or less depending on taste
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (low salt) soy sauce
- 6 Tablespoons dry sherry
- Stir-Fry Oil – garlic flavored (or regular cooking oil)
- Mongolian Fire Oil (optional) or other spicy oil if you like a spicy stir-fry
- Hot, cooked rice (preferably the more heart-healthy brown rice)
- Make rice in rice cooker or on stove-top.
- Slice vegetables into bite-size pieces (except snow peas). Rinse, put in microwaveable bowl, add a bit of water, cover and microwave (or steam) for about 2 minutes, just to soften. Drain and keep warm/covered so they continue to cook a bit.
- Slice beef or chicken into bite size cubes and set aside
- In small bowl blend together cornstarch, salt, and sugar. Add soy sauce and sherry, whisk/mix and set aside.
- Add about 1 Tablespoon of Stir-Fry Oil into wok (and add Spicy Oil if using.) When hot, add vegetables and stir-fry on high heat for about 2 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove vegetables and store on paper towel/plate.
- Add more Stir-Fry Oil (and Spicy Oil if using) to wok and once VERY HOT, add the beef or chicken, taking care not to overcrowd – you might need to do in 2 batches. Stir-fry on high heat for about 2 minutes to sear the meat on all sides – do NOT overcook. Goal is to sear the meat on high heat (not cook it through just yet) to keep from getting tough.
- Return all meat to wok if cooked in 2 batches
- Return all vegetables to wok and mix in with meat
- Add sliced mushroom and mix in well with meat and vegetables
- Stir the soy sauce mixture and add to wok
- Stir and cook until the sauce is well mixed in with meat/veg and starts to thicken
- Cover and cook for 1 minute more
- Serve over rice
Recipe Info (Prep/Cook Time)
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes
Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
This recipe is a crowd pleaser – those who want to be very heart healthy can load up on the vegetables, and the meat lovers will enjoy the mix of meat and vegetables. There is very little oil and no MSG. And big bonus: the vegetables are in such a tasty sauce that even picky kids tend to enjoy this dish – even if it has vegetables they normally refuse.
You can very easily make this dish vegetarian – just load up on more vegetables and eliminate the meat. Or for a pescatarian version, choose shrimp or fish to replace the meat. For fish, choose a firm fish and stir-fry it on very high heat, very quickly. If you choose pre-cooked shrimp, just add it with the sauce at the end to warm up. This healthy dish offers a lot of versatility to the chef — it can be tailored to meet the nutritional quirks of dinner guests, yet it’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner.