Friday, March 21, 2014

Baby Kale Stir Fry

Necessity is often the mother of invention.  For instance, a big bag of kale beginning to wilt in the fridge.  A storage container full of brown rice.  One small zucchini yelling, "Help!" from the crisper drawer.  Me, hungry.

I am not a terribly accomplished stir fry cook, but when I need to, I can pull together a fairly happy Asian-style meal in about the time it takes to chop and cook the vegetables if I have rice made.   This particular meal is mostly vegetarian, but it needn't be.  (Skip the fish sauce or honey in the sauces if you'd like a vegan meal.)

If you'd like to add meat, simply add thin slices of your favorite chicken, beef, or pork  --or even pieces of shrimp -- to the hot flavored oil.  Cook until nearly done and remove from the skillet or wok while you cook the vegetables. (You might need to add a bit of oil to the pan before you begin the vegetables.)  Stir back in to heat when the vegetables are beginning to soften.  If you don't have rice, you'll need to make rice before you begin the stir fry.  (Keeping a container of cooked brown rice in the refrigerator or freezer is a lovely idea or make microwave rice if you're in  hurry.)

The vegetables are just what I had on hand;  if you have broccoli, use that.  Tomatoes?  Throw them in at the end.  Asparagus?  Of course.  Just make sure you cut the vegetables up into pieces that will cook quickly.

I include directions for three different sauces, one of which is just soy sauce, water, and a little salt and pepper.  This stir fry is a little spicy, if you like less spicy food, cut down on the crushed red pepper.

baby kale stir fry  2 servings
  • 2 teaspoons canola or peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated or finely chopped ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup each thinly sliced red bell pepper, red onion, carrots
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2" x 2" pieces
  • 2 cups baby kale, chopped roughly
  • Sauce (see below)
  • 2 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
Optional condiments at the table:  Soy sauce or Sriracha sauce

In a deep, large skillet or wok, heat the oil, ginger, and garlic over high heat for one minute.  Add crushed red pepper, red bell pepper, red onion, carrots and zucchini.  Cook, stirring, about two minutes or until beginning to soften.  Stir in kale and cook another two minutes or until the kale is beginning to wilt.

Pour sauce (choose one from three below) over vegetables and cook another minute or until thickened.   Serve half of the stir fry over 1 cup hot rice and garnish with a few sesame seeds.  Repeat with the second serving, or let cool and store for tomorrow's lunch.   Pass soy sauce and/or sriracha sauce at table if desired.

Sauce 1:

Whisk together in a small bowl until smooth:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or rice wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce 2:

Whisk together the first five ingredients and then whisk in the cornstarch:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons sherry
1/4 cup white wine or chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Sauce 3:
  •   If you don't have all the ingredients for either sauce, make a simpler sauce of soy sauce, a splash of water, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a tsp of cornstarch.  Flour is not a good thickener for stir fry and, if you don't have cornstarch, simply cook a little longer to thicken.  Your sauce will be much smoother, however, if you do use cornstarch.
Optional sauce ingredients:  pinch of sugar,  dash of chili-garlic sauce, dash of rice wine vinegar

If you like this, you might like my Tofu Stir Fry.  Don't be frightened; it's easy and tofu is delicious in stir fry.

Want a read through a stir fry 101 before you begin?  Try this one.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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