Left to my own devices, I tend toward Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern seasonings: cumin, fresh parsley, lemon juice, garlic. I like to make dishes that taste like they’d be best enjoyed on a sun-dappled patio, overlooking an olive grove or turquoise blue waters.
But my main man Dave, he likes Asian. Every Friday afternoon, he takes himself out to lunch at Zen, and more often than not, when I just can’t bear to cook (those days do happen), he offers to pickup my standard Zen order (salmon, double karma mix, wheat-dairy-gluten-free green curry sauce, no noodles, no rice).
When we went to Penzeys Spices a few months ago, he picked up some Chinese Five Spice Powder so we could sprinkle transform veggies and protein from “ingredients” into “dinner.” Five Spice Powder includes all five essential flavors – sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty – in the form of pepper, anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel.
The recipe below is inspired by the one printed on the back of the Penzeys label; I just decreased the amount of honey and added the chili-garlic sauce for zing.
Best Stir-Fry Sauce EVER™
Makes enough for approximately 8 oz. of protein and 4 cups of veggies
3 tablespoons coconut aminos or homemade substitute
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice Powder
1/2 teaspoon honey (if you’re doing a strict Whole30, leave it out)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic paste
1. Blend all of the above in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Stir fry your favorite veggies and protein in coconut oil until desired tenderness.
3. Add the stir-fry sauce and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and heated through. Drizzle with a little bit of sesame oil.
4. Eat! Enjoy! Be sure to inhale the exotic aroma!
One of my favorite combos: ground lamb with red bell peppers, green beans, cabbage, and onions. I blanch the green beans before stir frying so they’re tender, but not mushy. The onions and red pepper can just be sauteed in oil to make them crisp-tender.
Every protein source I’ve tried – beef (ground or sliced), chicken, shrimp, and lamb – has been great with this sauce. Here are some veggies combos that I really like:
- Broccoli, slivered carrot, and mushrooms
- Snow peas, snap peas, and red pepper
- Eggplant, red peppers, chunks of cabbage, and onion
- Slivered carrot with a pepper medley: sweet green, sweet red, Anaheim, poblano – all sliced thin and sauteed with yellow onion
- Okra, eggplant, snow peas, and yellow onion
The way a vegetable is sliced affects how quickly it cooks, it’s texture, and it’s mouth-feel. Try to cut all your veggies for stir frys into approximately even-sized pieces so they cook uniformly. Chunks of peppers taste very different than slivers. Carrot coins are different than grated or matchsticks. Chunks of cabbage cook to a different texture than thin slices. Change the shape, change your dish.
I usually pick one shape for a stir fry and stick to it. Sometimes it’s all 1-inch chunks (peppers, cabbage, and eggplant, for example); other times it’s slivers (green beans, red pepper, onion).
Experiment to see which you like the best. You really can’t go wrong, especially if you use the Best Stir Fry Sauce EVER.™
I’m excited to once again join the punk rocker foodies on Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.
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