When it comes to stir-fry, the options are just about endless. That’s why it’s my go-to dinner when I’m low on ideas and have lots of unused odds and ends in my fridge’s crisper drawer.
Once I’ve made up my mind to go the stir-fry route, my first question is to assess the grain situation. Sure, there’s the typical long-grain white rice, a staple in many pantries, but other rice varieties and grains can be fun to experiment with. Barley, basmati rice, black rice, brown rice and couscous are some of the bases I’ve tried. And heck, who says grains are required? Stir-fried vegetables and meat are great flying solo, too.
Next, I take stock of my fridge. Leftover grilled chicken? Throw it in the wok! How long has that limp kale been in there? Wilt it some more! Who left five baby carrots in the bag? Time to give them new purpose! And then I peek in the freezer to see what hidden surprises have staved off frostbite long enough to make it onto the dinner plate. Nice job, I tell myself. Supper is starting to take shape.
I secure a few more essentials — a couple of garlic cloves, butter (or my favorite: reserved bacon grease) soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil (if I’m feeling fancy) — and fire up the wok. It’s time to cook!
What’s on your stir-fry musts list? What do you make for dinner when you’re having a cupboards-half-empty kind of day?
Here’s a recipe for a red rice stir-fry (pictured above) I concocted the other night:
Stir-fried broccolini, kale and edamame over red rice
1 cup red rice
3 tablespoons bacon grease or unsalted butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped coarsely
4 or 5 large carrots, chopped into 1/4-inch discs
1 bunch broccolini, stems chopped and florets separated into long pieces
4 kale leaves, ribs discarded, julienned
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1. Add rice and 2 cups salted water to a medium pan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and cook 50-60 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
2. In a wok or large pan, warm the bacon grease, soy sauce and vinegar over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to stir.
3. When the liquid is hot, add the garlic. Cook until just fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the onion and carrot. Cook until tender, 6-8 minutes. Add the broccolini stems and cook about 2 minutes before adding the florets, kale and edamame. Cook until tender, another 5 minutes or so. Adjust seasonings.
4. Divide the rice among 4 bowls and top with stir-fried vegetables. Serve warm.