Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spring Stir Fry

Bowl of stir fry with sesame seeds on top
Spring Pea Pods Kick it up a Notch

Recipe by Bruce

It’s a perfect day when your CSA share provides all the veggies you need to make a tasty springtime dish, and then the Farmers’ Market fills in the exact veggie that will make the dish fabulous (& publishable!). It’s even better when that missing ingredient comes from the tried, trusted, and true farm that provides your CSA shares. Thank you Live Earth Farm and the Felton Farmers’ Market for the fresh spring snap peas. What’s even better than that? LEF gave us a discount for being CSA member and double-dippin’ at the Market! Better still? Bruce is the family stir-fry king, so I got to take the photos with two hands instead of the usual one! And of course, stir fries are delicious and healthful.

green garlic, pak choi, snap pea pods and young carrots in basket
Healthful Spring Veggies
We’ve been getting a lot of Chinese greens, mostly bok choy, pak choy, and mei qing choy, both from our CSA and our garden. These take up lots of room in the fridge, and stir-frying them is an effective way to reduce their volume while adding a perky green note to heftier veggies. Bok choi and pak choi are quite similar related species. Bok choi often has a lower, chubbier profile and stems are thicker and waterier than the taller, thinner pak choi. Mei qing choi packs a spicy flavor, especially when large. You can use these greens interchangeably or in combination, with the awareness that mei qing choy will add a radish-like flavor to the stir fry. You might want to balance the latter with something sweet (honey or hoisin) and/or salty (salt or tamari).

Veggies in wok being stir fried
Poetry (and Stir Fry) in Motion
It’s still green garlic season, and this recipe is quite heavy on that. Feel free to reduce the quantity, or to substitute a few cloves of dry (regular) garlic. Also, you could add fresh ginger. We intentionally left it out to change the flavor focus, since Bruce’s other stir fry recipes are gingery. Bruce says he would like to add mung bean sprouts and/or water chestnuts to this next time. Improvisation befits stir fries, so handy for using up assorted on-hand veggies--so go ahead and adjust the sauce as you like. If it isn’t quite perfect (or if you want to start some conversation), put tamari, honey, chili oil, and rice vinegar on the table and let diners fine tune to their heart’s content.

For best stir fry results, follow Bruce’s Tips for Successful Stir frying. It’s best practice to use a timer.

Bowl of stir fry without seeds
Serve without Sesame Seeds if you Prefer
Springtime Stir Fry
serves about 8

~ ¾ lb. carrots
3 stalks green garlic
2 large bunches pak choi, ~2 lb.
1 lb. snap pea pods
½ bunch cilantro, ~1.5 oz.
~1 tbsp. peanut oil
2 tbsp. tamari
1½ tbsp. rice vinegar
1½ tbsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. hoisin sauce
½ tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
Salt and hot chili oil, for serving

Wash, trim, and slice carrots about 3/8 inch thick. You will have about 3 cups.

Peel and slice green garlic bulbs and soft stem parts about ¼ inch thick. You will have up to 2 cups.

Wash and slice the pak choi about 3/8 inch thick, keeping stems and leaves in separate containers. They will be added to the wok at different times. You will have about 8 cups.

Wash snap peas and remove stem ends, strings, and any blossom remnants.

Wash cilantro and remove leaves from stems. You will have about 1/3 cup.

DON’T SKIP THIS STEP, for best results. Dry off all veggies with a kitchen towel. A little dampness is okay, but excess water will dilute the sauce and make the stir fry soggy.

Mix the stir fry sauce by stirring together tamari, rice vinegar, sherry, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch.

Heat a wok over high heat for about 30 seconds. Add peanut or other high-temperature cooking oil to wok and continue heating for another 30 seconds. Test by sprinkling in a few drops of water (carefully!) When they sizzle, start adding the veggies.

Add carrot to the wok and stir fry for two minutes. To stir fry, use two utensils, sliding both down the sides of the wok beneath the veggies and lifting up to toss the veggies when you reach the center. Apply this action continuously throughout the stir fry to cook the veggies evenly.

Add green garlic to the wok. Continue tossing and frying for 30 seconds.

Add the pak choi stems. Stir fry for 1 minute.

Add the snap pea pods. Continue stir frying for 30 seconds.

Add the leafy green parts of the pak choi. Continue lifting and tossing the veggies until the greens are evenly wilted, about 1 minute.

Add the cilantro and the sauce to the wok. Continue stir frying until sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Remove stir fry immediately to serving platter or bowl to avoid overcooking.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with salt and hot chili oil as optional condiments.

closeup of stir fry in bowl
Colors and Textures of Spring

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