Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Lotus Root, Radicchio and King Trumpet Mushroom Vegetarian Stir Fry

     Healthy Stir Fry Veggies!
     Stir fry food was popular in American casual restaurants about 30 years ago.  Back then, it seemed like every restaurant had a token stir fry entrée on the menu.  National chain restaurants also got on the stir fry bandwagon.  
     Food quality issues were the main reason why stir fry food became a passing fad at casual restaurants and chain restaurants many years ago.  Chain restaurants used frozen vegetables to make stir fry and this entirely defeated the purpose.  Stir fry at cheap restaurants looked more like the vegetables were boiled in sauce till they were mushy, instead of being sizzled in a wok with little bit of hot oil till the vegetables had a crisp texture.  Cheap bottled teriyaki sauce was used to flavor stir fry at most two bit restaurants and this did nothing for the overall appeal.  Because so many restaurants served up such lousy stir fry back in those days, the stir fry trend burnt out long before its prime.        
     There is nothing like the real thing, when it comes to stir fry.  Asian restaurants always have nice stir fry entrées on the menu and the stir fry is made the way it should be.  All it takes for a home cook to learn good stir fry cooking techniques, is to watch a professional Chinese cook in action.  For example, watching an old Chef Martin Yan cooking show video will provide plenty of ancient Chinese secret stir fry techniques!

     Stir Fry Cooking Tips:
     • Have all the ingredients and the sauce preparation ready before you start cooking.
     • Cut the vegetables so they will cook quickly and evenly.  Cut the vegetables into shapes that will all finish cooking at the same time.
     • Mix the ingredients for the sauce together, so they can be added all at one time.  This includes combining thickening agents, like cornstarch, with the liquid ingredients.  
     • A sauté pan, mini wok or a wok can be used.  The shape of the pan really does not matter, but a wok is designed for stir fry.  Heat the pan or wok over medium/medium high heat before the first ingredient is added.  
     • A minimum of oil is needed.  Most stir fry dished require less than 2 tablespoons of oil.  The oil must be hot, but the oil should not be so hot that it smokes.  Be sure to select an oil that has a high smoking point.  Peanut oil, coconut oil and soy oil are the best choice.
      • Add hard vegetables or meats first.  Add the soft vegetables or leafy greens last.
      • Excessive browning of the vegetables can be avoided by tossing the ingredients as they cook in the hot wok.  Once the stir fry begins, a cook constantly has to maintain the food in the hot pan.  
      • If a sauce is used to flavor the sir fry, the sauce should be added when the vegetables just start to become al dente, so the cooked vegetables still have a crisp bite when the entrée is served.  The object is to add the sauce late in the recipe and bring the sauce to a quick boil while tossing the ingredients with the sauce, just before placing the entrée on a plate.
     *This entire recipe yields 1 entrée! 

     Be sure to have all of the ingredients ready before starting the stir fry! 
     This recipe uses a simple sir fry sauce that is not thickened with corn starch.  Thin Soy Sauce is a cooking soy sauce that is not as rich as regular table soy sauce.  It is available in flavors too.
     Step 1:  Par boil 6 to 8 thin slices of lotus root in salted water for 3 minutes.
     Place the blanched lotus root slices in ice water.
     Drain off the water and set the lotus root slices aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1/3 cup of vegetable broth in a small container.
     Add 3 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste.  (Korean style Sambal.)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Stir the ingredients and set the container aside.
     Step 3:  Prepare these hard vegetables:
     - 1/3 cup of petite carrot sticks
     - 1/4 cup of thin sliced onion
     - 1/2 cup of sliced bok choy.
     - 2 sliced water chestnuts.
     Place the hard vegetables in a container.
     Add the blanched lotus root slices.
     Set the hard vegetables aside.
     Step 4:  Prepare 1/3 cup of sliced King Trumpet Mushroom and set it aside.      
     Step 5:  Prepare these soft vegetables:
     - 1/4 cup of thin sliced seeded yellow squash strips
     - 1/4 cup of feather cut snow peas.
     - 1/2 cup of sliced radicchio.
     Place the soft vegetables in a container and set it aside.      
     Step 6:  Prepare these fresh herbs:
     - 8 whole Thai Basil Leaves.
     - 10 whole cilantro leaves.
     Set the herbs aside.

     Lotus Root, Radicchio and King Trumpet Mushroom Vegetarian Stir Fry:
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan or wok over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Briefly stir fry for a few seconds, so the garlic and ginger becomes aromatic.
     Step 2:  Immediately add the reserved hard vegetables.
     Stir fry and toss till the hard vegetables just start to cook.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved King Trumpet Mushroom.
     Add the reserved soft vegetables.
     Stir fry and toss till the vegetables are more than halfway cooked and a few golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add the reserved sauce mixture.
     Bring the sauce to a boil while occasionally tossing the ingredients.
     Step 5:  Add the reserved fresh herb leaves.
     Toss the ingredients together one last time.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the vegetable stir fry on a plate.
     Pour any excess sauce over the vegetables.
     Garnish the stir fry with a cilantro sprig.
     *Serve with some steamed sticky white rice on the side.

     This is a healthy plate of tasty stir fry vegetables!

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