I have a long history of
interfering wanting to help when my friends express interest in learning how to cook. So, naturally, I got all excited when our friend, Mikey, asked to learn how to make stir fry. He’s one of the firemen on my hubby’s crew, and since they’re all looking to get in shape for the upcoming wildfire season, Mikey wanted to learn how to make something that would be healthy, not too expensive and could be made in a big batch that he could eat all week.
On our menu for the night is a big batch of brown rice, some sesame chicken and broccoli and a veggie stir fry. It should be good, we have a healthy, filling starch; a saucy, take-out style, meat dish; and a big mess of spicy, garlic-y veggies!
My folks have always thought that my true calling is teaching young people how to cook, maybe they’re right; but for now I know that I enjoy helping out if a friend asks for cooking advice. This post is a little different than usual, because I didn’t want to hassle Mikey for his grocery store receipts and because the recipes are more a framework than true recipes. Adjust the amounts to however much or little you want to make. Hopefully this will become a series of posts, if it turns out Mikey liked to cook with me after all!
Stir Fry Night!
This meal cost my buddy around $25 and made about 5 meals that he can eat up throughout the next week. He bought a few convenience items, like pre-cut veggies and a few fancy ingredients, like brown rice and name-brand soy sauce; so if you made this with on-sale ingredients your cost would be lower.
Tonight’s advice for the budding bachelor chef:
- When cooking Asian food, prep all the ingredients and gather all the condiments before starting to cook anything.
- Leftovers keep for about a week; five dinners is a good batch size because you can eat it in a week and it’s not so much you’ll get super sick of eating the same thing. That I know from experience, I’m often cooking for just myself in the summer while the boys are away, saving baby deer from terrible wildfires.
Brown Rice – 1-2 lbs of rice, made in a rice cooker as per the manufacturer instructions. It’s good to put the rice on first so that it can cook as you’re prepping and cooking the other dishes.
Sesame Chicken and Broccoli – saucy, take-out style goodness!
- 1 chicken breast – thinly sliced
- 1 tsp of corn starch
- 1 Tbs of soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger
- vegetable oil
- 1/2 – 1 lb broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tbs cornstarch, stirred into 1/4 cup water
- 2-4 Tbs sesame oil
- 2-4 Tbs soy sauce
- sesame seeds and sliced scallions – for garnish, optional
Meat and Marinade – I wrote this bit as a ratio, based on one chicken breast, so multiply by however many pieces of chicken you’re making. For example, we used three chicken breasts in our dish and multiplied everything by three. Just mix everything in the first list of ingredients together and let sit to marinade for 15-30 minutes. This same marinade is great on pork too!
To start the dish, heat up a few Tbs of vegetable oil over high heat in a large wok or saute pan. Work in batches and saute about one chicken breast’s worth or marinaded meat at a time, stirring occasionally. Put the cooked chicken in a bowl off to the side.
Once all the chicken is cooked, heat another few Tbs of oil and saute the broccoli and ginger about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add back the cooked chicken pieces and add in the chicken broth. Cover the wok/pan and let simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and water mixture and bring to a simmer. (Simmering activates the thickening power of the cornstarch!) Stir in a little bit of the sesame oil and soy sauce and taste it. If you like it, great; if you think it needs something, experiment with adding a bit more soy sauce and/or sesame oil until it tastes right to you! Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions.
- vegetable oil
- 1 head garlic, minced
- chili peppers, sliced, optional/to taste
- 1 -2 lbs mixed veggies, cut into thin slices – Mikey really wanted to cook come kale, so we had greens, an onion, carrots, and scallions in our stir fry. Use whatever you and your family like best.
- Salt and/or soy sauce
Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large wok or saute pan. Add in the minced garlic and chili peppers (if using), saute 30 seconds, or until the raging smell of delicious garlic hits your face. Start adding in veggies, one type at a time, according to how long they take to cook. Hard veggies, like onions, carrots and bell peppers take the longer to cook, about 5 min or more total where as soft veggies like mushrooms, asparagus, scallions and greens take only a minute or two. Add salt and/or soy sauce to taste.