Spicy Stirfry

I have a hard time justifying posting stirfry recipes. I’ve been making stirfries since I began cooking for myself and usually my sauces consist of whatever I throw together to match what I want in my head. There’s no measuring, no tasting, I rely on scent to tell me if I’ve gotten it right. It works for me.

Sometimes I actually read stirfry recipes, but usually avoid any that are hardcore on veggies or protein – you can quite easily throw half the fridge at a stirfry and be happy with the results. It, with its sister fried rice, are the ultimate leftover-users.

The biggest thing I have to be careful of is the sauce. I’ve made certain base sauces so often that I don’t always remember to be actually creative. That’s when I turn to recipes, to those that give some basic sauce variations that I can play around with.

The other night, my husband asked me to make a spicy stirfry. He wanted something with some heat to it, not too much, but lots of flavor too. It had to use a pepper of some sort and use up the last of the carrot and leek.

I decided to look around and found an older formula for sauces from Food Network Magazine that I’d clipped for just such an occasion. That afternoon, we’d picked up a bunch of random peppers at the end of the harvest season, so I had a new pepper to try out – a pimento. It sounded just right.

By the way, I’m incredibly sad because the day I wrote this, the last produce of the season was procured from our local Tooele farmer. (Well, his house is in Tooele, along with his farm stand on Main, but he farms 8 acres in Grantsville.) We won’t see more until mid-June.

Now I’m going to give you the recipe for basically what I put together, with the understanding that you won’t necessarily follow it to the letter. Throw in the veggies you have, even if all you have is a bag of frozen stir-fry mix (hey I like those especially in the winter when there’s nothing good on the shelf). Likewise, use the protein you have – from tofu to beef. There’s no reason not to, it will all be good.

Because damn this came out well. Really really well. It was just the right amount of spicy for us with plenty of sauce to make the rice a wonderful foil. The sauce isn’t difficult to put together, even if it seems like a lot of ingredients.

Spicy Stirfry [printable recipe]

Inspired by a recipe found in Food Network Magazine

  • 3/4 lb meat, thinly sliced, or tofu of some variety, cubed
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 smallish onion, sliced vertically
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2 cups grated cabbage
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 pimento pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, finely chopped
  • salt
  • oil

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup chicken [or veggie, mushroom, lobster, whatever] stock
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp palm sugar, grated if necessary (if unavailable, substitute brown)
  • 1 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek)

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Combine protein with 1 tsp cornstarch in another bowl.

In a large skillet or wok, heat some oil over medium-high heat. Add protein and cook, stirring often, until nicely browned. Remove and add to sauce.

Add a little more oil if necessary to the pan and start with the onions. When they’re tender and turning brown on the edges, add green onions, garlic and ginger. Stir constantly to keep them from burning for about a minute. Add veggies in order of cooking time. (For this: pepper, leek, carrot, cabbage.) Cook until everything is happily crisp-tender and ready. If you need some liquid to keep things happily frying, add a tablespoon or two of the sauce.

Add sauce and protein. Stir frequently until thickened. It’ll take a few minutes. Serve over rice. Garnish with chopped peanuts or sesame seeds.

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