I got to test my new outdoor cast iron burner at the farmers market. Photos are coming–but just picture the type of burner you might see under a huge pot of oil people use for frying turkeys outside. The burner is great for outdoor cooking demonstrations too! It attaches to a propane tank and gets really hot fast.

So many fresh vegetables in season now and I’ve found the quick stir frying method very handy and healthy. Many of you have probably had bad “stir-fry” at some point. Unfortunately most of what is called “stir-fry” is a generic mixture of soggy vegetables and tough meat swimming in a bottled overly sweet or salty sauce and way too much sauce for that matter. If you try the instructions below you will discover how this dish should really taste. I never use bottled stir fry sauces or Asian sauce mixes because it is so much tastier to make your own (and you control the sodium as well as leave out the chemicals). Right now I have an abundance of squash, onions, a variety of peppers from bell to jalapeno, as well as edamame almost ready. This method is also a good way to use less protein. 8-12 ounces of chicken, pork, beef, etc works just fine.

I also have lots and lots of Japanese cucumbers every day! These are beautiful Suhyo Long and and Suhyo Cross. I made a version of cucumber kimchi which turned out so good. I brought a big bowl of it to the farmers market and was surprised at the reaction. I wasn’t sure how spicy cucumbers with a garlic/ginger rice vinegar would go over here, but most people really liked it.

8 oz small pickling cucumber or Japanese cucumber
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 tsp finely minced ginger
2 T rice vinegar
1 T Red Chili paste (Sambal) or Srichacha
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fish sauce

Cut cucumbers into slices and mix with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain liquid that accumulates.

Mix all above ingredients together. Mix into cucumbers. Refrigerate and use immediately, but it will get better after several hours in the refrigerator. This will keep for several days but you will probably use it before then. It’s an excellent and low calorie snack!

Now, for the stir-fry recipe:

Master Recipe for Stir-Fried Vegetables and Meat

Step 1:
Choose a protein
3/4 lb. steak, pork, or chicken thinly sliced
3/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
Freeze meats first for easier slicing. Place cut meat in bowl and drizzle with 1 T low sodium soy sauce or Tamari, 1 T wine, sherry or Sake, if desired. Set aside.

Step 2:
Prepare 3 cups of any vegetables:
Sliced carrots, celery, bell peppers, onions, shallots, quartered mushrooms, sliced bok choy or cabbage, whole snow peas, sliced asparagus, baby spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, blanched brocolli or cauliflower florets, thawed or fresh peas or edamame, fresh or frozen corn or baby corn, cubed eggplant, sliced or cubed zucchini or yellow squash. If it can’t be cooked in a couple minutes pre-cook it by blanching in boiling water or a couple minutes in the microwave. For a spicy stir-fry slice up some jalapeno peppers.

Prepare garlic and ginger by mincing 2 cloves of garlic and 1 T fresh ginger.

Prepare garnish: Thinly slice scallions, chop peanuts, slice up some jalapenos, chop some cilantro and set aside.

Choose a sauce:

1/2 c chicken broth (low-sodium canned is fine)
1-2 T soy sauce or tamari
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes or chili sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
Mix together

Sweet and Sour
3/4 c chicken broth
1/4 c ketchup
2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
3 T rice vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Mix together

Simple sauce:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp cornstarch
1 T soy sauce or tamari
1 T hoisin or Oyster sauce
1 T Chinese rice wine or sherry
(or leave out the Hoisin or Oyster for a clear sauce)

Drain marinade from the protein. Have all ingredients by the pan. Heat pan until very hot, then add 1 T vegetable oil. Cook the protein for a couple minutes. For tofu, brown on both sides, don’t stir. Remove from pan and set aside.
Wipe out the pan, heat again, add another T of oil. Add the garlic and ginger, 2 minced scallions, a pinch of salt and sugar. Stir fry 30 seconds. Add the vegetables and cook until tender/crisp, then add meat an sauce and heat for 3 minutes. Add this point you can add some cooked noodles, either wheat or rice noodles which were previously cooked and drained well.
Garnish with the scallions, peanuts, cilantro. Don’t forget the garnish–it really adds something.
Serve with rice if you didn’t use noodles.

I use Hitomebore, a premium short grain rice. I buy it at Kokos Market on Williams Road in Ft. Worth. It’s a little pricey, ($38.00 for a 15 pound bag) but worth it.

I hope you experiment with the stir frying and enjoy it.