One of the things I recently discussed in my Stir Fry Sauces Review in the Shopping section here was the difficulty in finding a nice place to have a delicious Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean etc. dinner. Not that any other restaurant is totally easier; it's definitely give and take with each individual establishment. But so many Asian ingredients rely on soy or wheat or other things our precious Celiac friends/family/selves can't have. And there is nothing more frustrating than thinking you've found a restaurant that can safely serve you something good and find out you have two options, both of which are chicken with a vegetable.
So to satisfy our iron-deficient friends (and really why take an iron pill when there's so much delicious red meat out there? Oh it's really bad anemia? Sorry definitely take that pill too), I've outlined exactly what I make for our family stir fry.
In college - okay first of all I need to acknowledge that my university had the BEST. Seriously BEST. Dining locations of all time. Sorry Kanye but I have to overrule you on this one. It's continuously rated at the top of the college dining lists, and because I was so spoiled there I was able to try so many things I never ate before (salmon! sushi!) and make at home on the reg now (not the sushi that's way too much work for me when I can buy it).
One of the biggest stations at the multiple dining halls is the stir fry. At one of the closest dining halls to me my junior and senior years I was always impressed by the workflow at these stations. Huge woks over these giant flames, sitting in the middle of these sort of trays of running water that would be added to woks to clean them between customers. You'd line up at the little salad-style bar and add your veggies to your bowl. At the front of the line, you'd hand over your plate and tell the chefs what you'd like for your protein (usually steak and chicken, sometimes shrimp instead of one of the two) and what sauces you want. Most people say "everything and (how much "spicy" you want)." The spicy part is the tricky piece. For years I said no spicy, always ensuring a joking conversation with whichever chef was manning my wok as they'd pretend they misunderstood. Once they had added your protein and cooked it up, with huge flames for extra excitement, they'd add your veggies and hand you your bowl. You would take that bowl to the rice (white or brown), add it to your bowl, and by the time you came back your stir fry was hot as hell and covered in sauce, which the chefs would pour over your rice.
Whew. So now you know how to order like a regular.
During and right after college I started to make this at home - HUGE hit. Like you cannot overdo the success this dish has in our house. And really the most work is cleaning and cutting the veggies and cutting up the protein you've selected. I always vote steak. One its steak so it's delicious, and two I think it absorbs the flavors a bit better than chicken does. But do whatever you want, it's your party and I'm not behind you acting like a backseat cook (what a weird image).
So here we go! Head over to that Sauce Review to get the skinny on the sauce prep, and once you have those and literally any veggies and protein you like you're in business! In terms of veggies, I look for different colors, and then within those varying textures (broccoli vs peppers, for instance) and for things that will absorb sauce well (broccoli again, a real winner here). That being said there have been many many days where I just use whatever veggies we have in the house. Minute rice is not only acceptable but encouraged! Do what you can to eat quickly. There are a few dishes to clean, but I promise it's worth it.
And who really cares? The rule in our house is that if you cook you don't do the dishes. If that's not a rule at your house it will be after you cook this. And no one will mind - promise. If you just realized you're starving (which no one is according to my mother; "you can be hungry but not starving") and are making this for one good news: basically no dishes for you since you're using so much less!
God this will be a long post. TIME FOR THE GOOD STUFF IF YOU'RE SCROLLING:
Serves: 5 large servings (which you deserve)
Total Time: 1 hour (unless you are a veggie cleaning and cutting champ then probably 30)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteeing
- 2 lb sirloin tips (or whatever lightly marbled steak tips you find, don't waste time on the cheap "stir fry" steaks available they're just not as good!)
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 clove garlic (2 if you want to go wild since you're smelling up the house anyway)
- 1 cup snow peas
- 2 heads broccoli (I cheated here! For the first time! Wegmans precut broccoli slayed, I just cut them a little bit smaller)
- 1 large carrot
- Any other veggies you have hanging around! I go for different colors but zucchini, frozen peas, cauliflower, or anything else you have around would be excellent.
- 3 cups white rice - let's be real and just go with the Minute Rice kiddos
- 4 tablespoons gluten free Oyster Sauce
- 4 tablespoons gluten free Hoisin Sauce
- 4 tablespoons gluten free Teriyaki Sauce (or local Stir Fry sauce that's light and sweet)
- 1 cup gluten free beef stock (or beef bouillon in 1 cup microwaved water)
- Wash and cut the veggies. I go for small, bite sized pieces. Think about how these will fry up and how long different pieces will take - I usually cut carrots into thin strips - and how they will best absorb the sauce (i.e. cutting the broccoli into tiny florets). Make sure the veggies are thoroughly dried with paper towels, to make sure they cook properly in your oil.
- Cut your steak into bite sized pieces. I've found kitchen scissors do the best job.
- In a wok or large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat, adding half of your minced garlic (a garlic press works wonders here). This is the point that you want to run around and close the doors to all the rooms you don't want to stink up, and maybe/definitely open your kitchen window a bit.
- As soon as the oil is hot (and I mean put your hand an inch or two away from the pan to feel the heat hot), add in your beef, stirring continuously. As soon as the beef is mostly brown, add 2 tablespoons each of the Teriyaki (or Stir Fry sauce), Oyster and Hoisin. Continue to stir, adding a half a cup of your stock to ensure there is extra sauce for later!
- Once all beef is cooked and coated in sauce, take a sample. Make sure the flavors are right - real chefs do it all the time! Add whatever you need as appropriate - maybe a few red pepper flakes, maybe some extra salt in the form of gluten free soy sauce - then pour your steak from your wok to a ceramic dish with a cover until it's veggie sisters are ready to hang.
- In between batches is the time to start on your rice. Add the appropriate amount of water for your servings and put on high heat.
- Clean out your wok a bit with a few dry paper towels, then add the rest of your olive oil and garlic to the wok and let them heat up. This should only take a second since it's already super hot!
- Add veggies, starting with the ones that will take the longest to cook. For me, those are the onions, peppers, snow peas, and carrots. The broccoli can take a backseat for a minute since it's going to fill up the pan anyway.
- Around this time your water should be boiling for the rice - add in your rice, pull off the burner and cover so it'll be ready in time with your stir fry!
- For the starter veggies, I like to give them a few minutes - let's say 5 - to start to cook. Toss them around a lot with a rubber spatula to try to give everyone a chance at the hottest part of the pan.
- Once the others have had a little attention add whatever's left, just broccoli in my case. Add the rest of the Teriyaki/stir fry sauce, Oyster and Hoisin, and stir to coat. Pour over the remaining stock, and cover. Let the mixture cook with the extra liquid for about 10 minutes, opening to toss around every 2 or 3 minutes.
- Season again! Make sure your veggies have the appropriate taste and texture you want for your stir fry, trying a few different types of vegetables to be thorough. Then add your veggies to your beef in the serving dish, or vice versa and throw your beef in the wok with the veggies. Just get those two best friends together and give them a big stir to incorporate.
- Fluff up the rice and serve! Some people do rice on the side, some do right on top. I am of the latter party that enjoys a big party of flavors melded together, but do your thing.
Do you have a standby stir fry dish or variations you think I should try? Any thoughts on noodles vs. rice for this stir fry?