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The Basics of Stir Fry

Posted by Patrick on May 18, 2015

You’ve surely heard that stir-fries are good for you, unlike, say, French Fries. While it might seem that anything fried would be too high-fat to contemplate on a healthy diet, stir fries can easily fit even the most demanding of health bills.

How so? Read on. Stock up. Get ready.

Most stir fries are done over high heat, so whenever you make one, you need to be mindful. A thicker skillet or wok will hold the heat in, allowing you to cook slower. They’ll also maintain their heat even when the stove is off, so you need to be even more mindful.

This is why thin pans and woks are more frequently used in stir fries. They heat (and cool) quickly, allowing you more control over the heat. While a stir fry can be made with any skillet (I myself use a thicker skillet), if you find yourself with limp, overcooked vegetables, then consider using a thinner pan.

The secret to stir frying is to have crunch and bite to the chunks of vegetables when you’re done. You don’t want a soggy mess. If you use oil, make sure it’s suitable for high heat. If you don’t want to use oil, a dash of water can be used as a substitute - just be sure to keep stirring! Stirring keeps your ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan without relying on a large amount of oil.

Your first step is to infuse your cooking oil or liquid with the flavors you desire. A dash of tamari, toasted sesame seed oil, cayenne peppers, ginger, garlic - all can be added to the cooking liquid (or oil) at the beginning in order to get it worked in. This happens quite quickly, within a minute or two. It’s best to do this on a slightly lower heat than your actual cooking. Chop your first vegetable while this is going on.

Your first addition is going to be the vegetable that takes the longest to cook. Carrots, potatoes, onions - all are good candidates for your first vegetable. I like to start with onions, since they’ll impart flavor as they cook. You’ll turn up the heat a bit from the beginning, but not high yet!

Now, chop your second thickest vegetable. Whatever might take a while - thin sliced carrots, bell peppers, leeks. Add that to the skillet and turn the heat up a bit. Keep stirring, keep sweating! If you need to add more oil or water to keep things from sticking, now is the time.

We’re coming to the end. Put in your thinnest vegetable! Green onions, basil leaves, sprouts - anything that will suffer under a high heat, goes in now. The moment that last ingredient goes in, turn off the stove! Remove the skillet from the heat! Keep stirring! Keep moving!

If you’ve got a sauce, now’s the time to add it - if not, just sprinkle on whatever spices or flavorful liquids you’re going to be using. Keep stirring, and by the time your conglomeration is cool enough to eat, it’s ready!
A great stir fry base!

Green Onion Stir Fry

Posted by Patrick on May 04, 2015

Ingredients

LARGE Bundle of Green Onions
Glug of Sesame Oil (Toasted or Non)
Juice of One Large Lemon or Lime
Large Chunk Ginger
Two Glugs Tamari

VAST TRACTS OF GREEN ONIONS

First off, as you may have noticed, my recipes aren’t the most exact. This will allow you to experiment and play in the kitchen, which is where the fun and the magic happen. For a general reference, a “glug” is a large, perhaps overfilled, tablespoon, and a “dash” is slightly more than a sprinkle, but not quite as much as a light dusting.

Now that we are so precise, cut your ginger into coins, as thick as a quarter. You don’t have to skin them.

Add the ginger, tamari and oil to the skillet. If you like, you can replace the oil with a splash of water, wine, or vinegar. I don’t recommend adding citrus juice at this stage, as the cooking process will negatively impact the flavor.

Set this to simmer while you prepare your green onions. You want a BIG bundle, complete with fat white roots, as fresh as possible.

Remove any brown tops, dead bits, and the bottom of the roots. Chop the green tops into slices half as long as your index finger and slice the bottoms as thin as you can manage, but don’t dice them.

Use a spatula or sieve or some other brilliant technique to remove the ginger from the pan. I generally just use a slotted spatula and call myself “brilliant” for doing so.

Now, add the white parts of the onion. Let that come to a simmer and turn the heat up a bit. Once the white onion is browned and shriveled, add the tops, add your lemon juice, and put the lid on it. Once the juice starts to evaporate (steam will be rising, this should only take 1 minute or less) immediately turn the oven off, but leave the skillet sitting there for 2-3 minutes so that the steam and residual heat can take care of the cooking for you.

This dish is a great side over rice. Seasonings that you may want to consider include basil, cayenne pepper, garlic, or all of the above!