Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rosie Stir Fries. At Last.

I love a good stir fry. And if I want one here on the Outer Banks, I have to make it myself. We do have Chinese restaurants here. They populate from Mile Post 1 and down the beach. And they keep populating. They're more of the China Mac type, and I do not likey. Now before anybody gets all PC offended at my use of the word "likey," just don't. I use the phrase, "Rosie likey," all the time. Had I wanted to offend, I would have said, "I do not rikey."
Back to the stir fry. As I said, I love a good stir fry. All you need is a meat, sometimes a marinade, some veggies, and perhaps a finishing sauce. The most important step in stir frying is to have all your ingredients ready to go. Once you start a stir fry, you commit to it. You don't stop. All your ingredients must be prepared. A proper mise en place is paramount in stir frying.
Let's start the preparations. First, I consulted my trusty inventory. I see I have a Denver cut in the bottom basket of my freezer.
Here's a Rosie Tip #387: To cut very thin uniform slices for stir frying, use slightly frozen meat. I let this meat thaw out for about an hour before Mr. Hawthorne sliced it. If you have fresh meat and want it sliced thinly, let it sit in the freezer for about 30 minutes or more. Check out our cool knife sharpener above.
All these slices are still slightly frozen.
Next, a marinade. 1/4 cup Mirin 1/4 cup soy sauce 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 dried up jalapeno pepper, minced, that's been sitting on my counter for weeks 2 TB sugar Mix all together and pour over meat. Toss to coat.
Finely mince garlic. Rosie Tip #546: Run hot water over your knife before mincing garlic. The garlic will stick less to the knife.
Garlic making happy with the meat.
Bath of soy sauce.
Dousing of Mirin.
Cascade of sugar. The reason I put sugar in with my meat is to caramelize it a bit more when I cook it. The Maillard reaction is also known as the browning reaction. Raw meats contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars and amino acids in the form of proteins. The addition of heat sets off the Maillard reaction, the catalyst for change. With the application of heat, a chemical reaction occurs on the surface. The carbon molecules of the sugars combine with the amino acids of the proteins, resulting in a chemical recombination known as the Maillard reaction. The outer layer of the seared meat is now browned. The additional sugar I add makes the meat surface even browner and that's where the concentration of flavor is.
Assault your dried pepper.
Hot peppers into meat.
Toss to coat. Marinate for 1-2 hours, tossing every now and then.
The other party goers are a broccoli crown, a carrot, 1/2 green pepper, and 1/2 onion.
I cutely crinkly cut my carrots with my cute carrot crinkle cutter.
Now that's a mise en place! Marinating meat in the background. In the foreground, my prepared vegetables. Broccoli, onion, green pepper, carrot.
To prepare the veggies, I always peel my broccoli and chop into same-size pieces. Peel the stems of each floret. Slice green pepper. Cut onions. Crinkle cut carrots, or if you don't have a crinkle cutter, slice on the diagonal.
More mise en place. I wanted to put the crunch of water chestnuts in there and Mr. Hawthorne said, "You can never have enough garlic." My mise en place is ready now, but it's going to have to wait until I get the rice done.
We're using a Basmati brown rice.
Takes about 45 minutes to cook and it turns out nutty and toothsome and it needs a lot of butter. The rice begged me for butter and I acquiesced. I'm a butter whore. Let's recap what's been done: Meat's been cut and is marinating. Veggies are prepared. Rice is ready. What next? I'm making a finishing sauce. A sauce both for flavor and for a slight thickening/coating. It's an enhancement. For you purists out there ...
... avert your eyes. Points for the movie reference, Ticky.
I'm using 1/2 tsp beef base, nuked and dissolved in 1/2 cup water.
Next, 1/4 cup cold water and 3 TB cornstarch.
Cornstarch slurry on left. Beef-flavored chemicals on right. Rosie is ready to rumble. I have my mise. I have my wok. I have my sauces-in-the-works. Let's rumble.
Wok on HIGH heat. A couple of tablespoons of peanut oil, heat it up, and add Mr. Hawthorne's extra garlic to the oil to infuse the garlic flavor.
Garlic took about 2-3 minutes to lightly brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Remember to toss back in at the end.
Add in some peanut oil to your wok, skillet, or whatever you have. I use peanut oil because it has a high smoke point, and whenever I stir fry, I have my wok over the highest heat possible. So, peanut oil it is. Of all the veggies going into the mix, broccoli takes the longest to cook. Maybe 3 minutes total.
Broccoli in first.
After sauteing the broccoli for about a minute, I added in the rest of the veggies.
Stir fry about 2 - 3 more minutes.
Turn vegetables out into a bowl and cover.
Add more oil to the wok and ...
... add meat. Do NOT crowd the pan. Too much meat at one time lowers the temperature of the oil. You want to maintain high heat. You want to fry the meat, not steam it. I stir fried in 3 batches.
A minute or so is all you need per batch. Remove from heat and ...
... start on next batch.
Keep it moving.
Add in water chestnuts and ...
... rest of ingredients.
I mixed the cornstarch slurry with the sauce mixture and ...
... slowly poured down the side of the wok.
Heat it through quickly over high heat. Toss to coat. And you're done.
I mounded some of the rice in the middle and surrounded it with the stir fry.
I love the crisp broccoli. I love the crunch of the water chestnuts. Carrots, onions, and peppers are a happy mix. The meat is quite flavorful and the sauce is like icing on the cake.
This dish almost surprised me,
but then, I did make it.

2 comments:

Sage Trifle said...

Great post! I love the photos of your finished dish. They are just gorgeous.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thank you so much, Sage Trifle. That means a lot to me.