Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13th - Sesame Beef and Asparagus Stir Fry

Stir Fry and Me
I love a simple, good stir-fry.  It's one of those meals you can do to clean out the excess veggies you have in your fridge.  Plus, you don't need to have a whole lot of meat on hand to do it.   (You can stretch even a single chicken breast for a stir fry for four if you cut it thinly enough.)  Serve either with some rice or cellophane noodles, and you're good to go. 
Another reason why I like stir-fry is that it can be really healthy (if you don't put too much soy sauce in it..watch the sodium!).  All you need is just a tablespoon or two of oil for cooking (vegetable or peanut) and that's it.   For the sauce, you can do what this recipe says and mix some hoisin sauce with water or you can just throw in some broth (chicken, beef, or veggie) and thicken it with some cornstarch and water (what we chef's call a slurry).   Real simple. 

Hoisin is pretty easy to find in any grocery store now-a-days.  It's a thick Asian sauce made from soy paste (soy sauce), garlic, chilies, spices, vinegar, and sugar.   I've seen it referred to as "Chinese Barbecue Sauce".   Watch the sugar content on the back.   Sometimes it and the sodium content can be quite high.   That's why its generally a good idea to thin it out with some water (your canned broths and stocks will increase the sodium content unless you use the low-sodium kind).


Sesame seeds: had
Beef: $3.29
Veggie oil: had
Red onion: $0.89
Asparagus: $1.99
Hoisin: had
Sesame oil: had

Total: $6.17

As you can see, I used black sesame seeds in my recipe.  They taste the same, they're just a different color.  I somehow ran out of regular sesame seeds...strange.  But, I luckily had these so I didn't need to run out to the store.   I toasted them in a dry fry pan for a few minutes until they became a little fragrant.  Then immediately, dump them onto a plate (otherwise they'll continue to cook in the pan and burn).

Also, I bought steak from the grocery store that was marked "steak for sandwiches".   It was cut really thin and pounded out.  It was perfect for the stir fry because I wanted thin strips and all I had to do was cut it (no extra work!). 

Finally, I had some left over broccoli in the fridge, which I added to the stir fry (it's not in the recipe).  You can blanch and shock it ahead of time (which means cook it for a minute in boiling water and then throw it in an ice bath to stop it from cooking) or you can stir fry it raw.   I prefer stir-frying it raw. 


FAST:  Toasting the seeds took 5 minutes.  Cutting everything up will take you about 10 to 15 minutes.  Cooking will take you maybe another 10.  (Make sure you have everything cut up and ready to go first before you start cooking.  Once you start, there is no stopping.)  So you'll have stir fry in about 30 minutes (or less).

EASY:  The hardest part of this recipe is toasting the sesame seeds.  Everything else should be pretty easy.

FRESH:  Yes.  The more veggies you put in your stir fry, the fresher it will taste.  I added a sliced up green onion and threw it into the stir-fry when it was done. 

OVERALL:  Go a little less on the water.  I added the 1/3 cup and my sauce never thickened correctly.  I didn't want to let it boil too long or the veggies would get soft.   Also, make sure to season with salt or pepper.  You can use soy, but use a light hand.   This recipe was good.  I'm going to chill the stir fry and make a cold salad out of it with cellophane noodles.

We've got potatoes tomorrow.  See ya then!

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