With a do-ahead stir-fry sauce, which can be used with nearly any combination of vegetables and proteins, plus a few basic techniques, you can whip up a delicious stir-fry any night of the week.
Last week I sat down to write a blog post, and my mind went completely blank. I had no idea what recipe to develop/feature, and, even worse, I was completely uninspired. We were still eating summer produce, but fall was in the air. I couldn’t even think about writing about tomatoes and corn, but it seemed too early for Brussels sprouts and squash. Hmpf.
This went on for a few days, until I sat down to write a menu and shopping list for the week. Stir-fry! Of course! A stir-fry doesn’t have to be tied to a season. In fact, with a few basic techniques, a stir-fry can be just as delicious with end-of-summer eggplant as it can be with fall’s first cruciferous veggies. Plus, it’s a fantastic school-night supper since it can be prepped ahead.
Speaking of prepping ahead, the sauce can be made up to 5 days in advance. It’s a simple combination of mostly pantry staples, including soy sauce or tamari, orange juice, sesame oil, fish sauce, garlic and ginger. You can use it with a zillion different combinations of proteins and vegetables (I’ve included some of my favorites below), which can be chopped in the morning and refrigerated until dinnertime.
A few notes about stir-frying. Flat-bottomed woks are great if you stir-fry often, but a 12- to 14-inch skillet works just as well. It’s really important to preheat the wok or skillet before beginning. You can test if it’s hot enough by flicking in a few drops of water—they should evaporate within 1-2 seconds of contact. Finally, you’ll want to prep all of your ingredients before starting the cooking process because once you get started, it goes quickly.
(Do it Yourself) Stir-Fry
- 3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil such as peanut or grapeseed oil , divided
- 1 pound protein , such as: flank steak (cut into thin strips); skirt steak (cut into thin strips); boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (cut into thin strips); pork tenderloin (cut into thin strips); peeled and deveined shrimp, baked tofu (cubed)
- 3-4 cups hardy vegetables (such as broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, sliced peppers or cubed eggplant)
- 3 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1-2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 3-4 cups tender vegetables (such as snow peas, snap peas, garden peas, sliced mushrooms, baby spinach, chopped baby bok choy and/or chopped Swiss chard)
- 1 batch Stir-Fry Sauce (see below)
- Cooked rice , for serving
- Sliced scallions , for serving (optional)
- Heat a large flat-bottomed wok or a large skillet over high until hot (to test if it’s hot enough, flick a drop of water into the pan—it should evaporate immediately). Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the protein, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized on the outside but still undercooked in the center, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Swirl in another tablespoon of oil and add the hardy vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized in spots, about 2-4 minutes.
- Push the vegetables to one side of the wok. In the other side, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, followed by the garlic and ginger. Add the tender vegetables and toss everything together. Cook, stirring constantly, until crisp-tender, about 1-3 minutes.
- Return the protein to the wok. Whisk the stir-fry sauce to distribute the cornstarch, and then add it as well. Cook, stirring gently, until the sauce comes to a boil coats the meat and vegetables, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the stir-fry over rice. Garnish with sliced scallions, if you’d like.
- ¼ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 garlic clove , grated
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Whisk everything together until smooth. Do Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.