The Ultimate Stir-Fry

Island Epicure


The best of all possible stir-fry dishes meets these criteria: Contains assorted vegetables and a high-protein source, looks beautiful, and tastes great. If it’s quick to prepare as well as cook you’ve got the ultimate stir-fry.

For vegetables, I like to choose colorful ones. Color tends to indicate nutrition and flavor, freshness, and pleasure to the eye of the beholder.

Some combinations that combine a range of nutrients and do all the things mentioned just now. The thickening gives the dish an attractive glaze and makes sure the liquid gets eaten.

4 servings
12 ounces (0.75 lb) thin-sliced beef or bison, cut in small strips
Flour for dredging
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons olive or canola oil, divided
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
4 slices gingerroot, minced
1 (5-ounce) package Spinach
4 to 6 green onions, cut in 1 ½ inch lengths, tops separate
or 1 small yellow onion wedge-cut in ¼-inch wide strips
1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
2 or 3 ribs celery, optional
1 cup beef broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

Prepare everything but the thickening.

First, the beef: Dredge it well in flour. I like to use half barley flour and half cornstarch, but any mild-tasting flour will do. Press the flour in, both sides of the beef strips. Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in your widest skillet, or in two skillets using 1 Tablespoon oil in each. Brown the beef strips on each side, adding more oil if needed. Remove meat and reserve. Wipe out the pans.

Second, the vegetables: Mince the garlic let it breathe while you cut up the rest of the vegetables.

Glaze the skillet/s with the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat them. Stir-fry the rest of the vegetables, reserving the green onion tops, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth. Bring to a low boil. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Scoop the vegetables into a bowl. Add the broth to the pan. Increase the heat under it. Let it come to a boil. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small cup. Slowly add it to the boiling broth while stirring. When it thickens and clears, add back the meat and vegetables. Stir. Add green onion tops. Cook until heated through. Stir again. Transfer to serving bowl.

Serve with steamed rice of your choice. We like brown rice goldened with a few pinches of turmeric.

Nutritip: Turmeric is good for your memory. Brown rice has a better cadmium-zinc balance than white rice, plus B vitamins.

No actual frying required for this dish. A wide skillet cooks the ingredients quickly and evenly.

4 servings
1 ½ cups chicken broth or clam liqueur
½ pound large shrimp, cooked and shelled
6 cups nappa cabbage cut in 1 ½ inch squares (never mind if they aren’t all perfectly square)
4 to 6 fat garlic cloves, minced, about 2 Tablespoons
1 long carrot, whittled to thin strips, or julienne*
1 green bell pepper cut in shrimp-size strips
4 green onions cut in 1 ½ inch lengths, tops separate
1 Tablespoon cornstarch or Mochiko rice starch
¼ cup cold water

Heat the broth or clam liqueur. Add everything but the shrimp and thickening. Bring to a low boil. Cook 5 minutes.  Add thickening. Stir-cook until the broth thickens and clears. Add shrimp and green onion tops. Cook about 3 minutes more, just until the shrimp are heated along with the rest of the ingredients.

*Julienne carrots in a food process or if you have no mandolin. Cut them in about 1 ½-inch lengths and stack them horizontally in the feeder tube. Process.  Yields thin sticks. This is faster and easier than whittling thin strips.

Any left-over stir fry serves as the basis for a delicious noodle dish or light soup. This is Cordon Bleu type cooking. All quantities depend on what’s on hand, and what seems right to the cook.

Thai rice noodles, or any leftover cooked pasta
Chicken stock or beef broth
Leftover Stir fry
Small handful cilantro or parsley
½ cup thin bamboo shoots, optional
Soy sauce to taste
Soak the rice noodles if using in hot water for 15 minutes.
Combine all ingredients. Bring to boiling. Test noodles for doneness. Enjoy!

4 servings
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 small head broccoli, florets cut off, stems reserved for later soup
1 sweet onion cut in bite-size pieces
½ cup thinly sliced carrot
½ cup thinly sliced celery
1 yellow bell pepper cut in bite-size pieces
1/3 cup raw peanuts, almonds, or cashews
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon coconut sugar