Oh yes, fast, simple and tasty is what we are about these days. If dinner takes longer than 40 minutes to prepare, it has to wait until the weekend to get my attention. This dinner is fast and so tasty and it is one of the best ways to get my kids to eat a lot of vegetables. It could easily be prepared without any meat or tofu at all, just add the "marinade" at the end to finish and make a nice sauce.
While a stir-fry with a lot of veggies does require a bit of prep, once the chopping is done it comes together quickly. Over the years I have perfected the timing of the prep so that we are eating in about 35 minutes from start to finish. I offer my general game plan to you so you can skip the learning curve.
Double Ginger Stir-fry
oil (peanut, canola, vegetable) -you need enough to lightly coat the pan 2 times
3-5 cups total of veggies (see below for what I used)
1-3 tsps each of minced fresh ginger and fresh garlic
1 lb marinated meat/tofu
4 Tbs GF, low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs dark sesame oil (use another oil if allergic)
1 Tbs rice vinegar or sherry or lemon juice (any acidic substance would work here)
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp corn starch
1. Start the rice (especially if you are using brown rice as it will take at least 50 minutes).
2. Marinate the meat/tofu (if using); mix the marinade, cut the meat/tofu, put into bowl and stir to coat each piece. Stir occasionally until you are ready to stir-fry it. The recipe below is a marinade that my parents used since I was a kid. It is a perfect, universal marinade that I have used on all kinds of meats and fish. There is some flexibility in a few ingredients, so adjust as you see fit. My 2 chicken breasts were a whopping 1.5 lbs so I doubled the marinade recipe. We like a lot of sauce so this worked out perfectly.
3. Clean and chop the veggies. You want most of your veg to be similar in size. This makes it easier to cook and eat. For this particular batch we used a small zucchini, mushrooms, 3-colors of bell peppers, half a sweet onion, a carrot and some celery. I love a mixture of flavor, color and texture. I put all the veggies in their own little bowls so that I can add them separately.
4. Mince the ginger and garlic. Fresh ginger and garlic is what really makes this dish sing. It is good with just the powdered ginger, but if you can get your hands on some fresh ginger root, it will take this dish from good to amazing. And don't be intimidated by the prep involved. It is super easy to peel the skin from ginger with a spoon, then I thinly slice it and then chop the slices until they are a nice mince. Fresh garlic is the same story. It really adds a flavor dimension to the dish. I buy several heads of garlic, peel them all and chop them in my food processor. I store this chopped garlic with some olive oil, in a jar with a tight lid. It keeps for at least a month.
5. Get ready to fry. I have a wok, but a large frying or saute pan would also work. I like to use peanut oil, not only because it has a high smoke temperature, but because it adds one more subtle taste to the overall layers of the meal. Refined canola oil also works (refining gives it a higher smoke point). I DO NOT recommend a delicate oil like olive. I crank up the heat to high. The idea is to cook this food fast so it maintains as much nutrients as possible and keep it moving so it doesn't burn.
6. Stir-fry! This is the general way I do my stir-fries:
- drain the marinade from the meat and set aside to be added later
- stir-fry meat until done. I test this by cutting several pieces in half.
- remove the meat to a clean bowl
- stir-fry the veggies: first carrots and celery, then onions. Next is mushrooms (we like ours a little soft), now the peppers and finally the zucchini (we like ours a little firm). I would say I put 30 seconds to 1 minute between each addition, all the while stirring and moving the veg to avoid burning.
- add fresh garlic and ginger, stir-fry until fragrant
- add marinade and allow to cook/boil at least one minute, keep stirring (if you are uncomfortable using a marinade that had meat in it, just make a second batch to add at this point).
- add meat back to pan and stir-fry until hot
- serve over the rice that should be finished by now