Cooking by Number – Stir-Fry

One of my sons used to groan when homemade stir-fry was on our dinner menu. After all, Asian cooking is not in our culinary genes, except to order in a Chinese restaurant. But two things helped turn him around – his non-Chinese nutrition professor at Cornell, who cooked a stir-fry in the lecture hall that looked and smelled a lot like ours, and … cornstarch. Adding a little cornstarch gives homemade stir-fry  the same shine and texture as you get in restaurants. When we’re short on time for chopping fresh vegetables, we love using the frozen stir-fry veggie assortment from Costco. And experiment with different scratch and packaged sauces to find the ones that you like best.

Here’s what you need to make Cooking by Number stir-fry to serve four:
4 cups cut-up vegetables (or more) 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 teaspoons oil (I like to use peanut)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound protein
1/2 cup sauce, reduced sodium if available
2 teaspoons cornstarch, stirred into 2 tablespoons water

Here are some ingredient ideas to get you started. Mix and match to create your own combos.
Vegetables – Fresh, pre-cut, or frozen broccoli, carrots, green beans, snow peas, Asian greens, napa cabbage, Asian veggie mix
Protein – Skinless chicken breast or thigh chunks, lean beef cubes, shrimp, salmon chunks, lean pork strips, firm or extra firm tofu
Sauce – Teriyaki, stir-fry, garlic, peanut, or make your own with 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and 4 tablespoons broth

Now that you’ve picked out ingredients, here’s what you do with them:

  1. Place the vegetables and 2 tablespoons water in a microwaveable bowl. Cover and microwave on high for two minutes.
  2. Heat a wok or large skillet on medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and oil and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for 5 minutes, adding a couple of tablespoons of water or broth if needed to keep the vegetables moist. Add the protein and stir-fry for 6 minutes or until almost fully cooked.
  3. Stir in the sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 2 minutes to heat the sauce. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer for 1 minute or until the sauce thickens.
  4. Serve over rice – we like brown or multi-grain rice – or pasta.

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