Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spring Stir Fry

In late May and early June, I find the hardest part of gardening to be all of the waiting. I have to hold myself back from going out to the garden two, three, or four times a day to scrutinize my little shoots for infinitesimal growth. If I can keep away for a few days--restricting myself to weeding the flower garden by the front stairs and trying to create a little lawn area--the payoff is incredible. Where Monday were little pokes today are pinkey-sized lettuce leaves. The mounds where I thought my cucumber seeds had rotted are now doppled with little pairs of leaves. And where last week were inch-high pea sprouts, today are hand-high plants with tendrils happily wrapping around the tomato cages I decided to use in place of trellis. I didn't quite plant enough peas to feel comfortable harvesting the shoots, and my plants still have another week or two before they even flower, but I have fresh peas on the mind, and in anticipation of finding them back-yard local, I went out and bought some semi-local snow peas for my favorite fresh-pea dish: stir-fry.

Spring Stir-Fry

Stir-fry is one of the fastest, easiest, most delicious meals. It's almost all prep, but since I'm someone who often preps as I go, let me take moment to say: here's one dish where it's really important to do all the prep first. Otherwise, you'll risk over-cooking which is the one thing that can ruin a stir-fry.

Stir-fry has spring, summer, and fall variations. Here's the basis for my spring stir-fry.

I use a sauce inspired by The Joy of Cooking:
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T rice wine
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 T corn starch

Mix the sauce. If you're using shrimp (4-6 cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp per person) or a meat (1/8 lb beef, chicken, or pork sliced very thin and cut into little strips), toss it in the sauce and let sit while you prepare the vegetables.

peel and thinly slice a 1-2 inch chunk of ginger
get out a container of hot oil

Prepare veggies

1-2 cups snow or snap peas, trimmed with strings pulled off
4 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces and then sliced lengthwise
2 cups bean sprouts

Cut into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside: 1 block of firm or extra-firm tofu

Heat 2 T vegetable or peanut oil in a wok or large pan. Keeping the heat quite high the entire time, add hot oil and ginger and toss or stir around for less than 1 minute. Add shrimp or meat and cook until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove meat with juices from pan and set aside. Add a little more oil, then peas and green onions and toss until peas are just tenderly cooked, about 2 minutes. Add meat, bean sprouts, and tofu and toss very gently for less than 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately, with rice.