Friday, December 23, 2011

Whole Foods Friday: Stir Fry

Stir-fries are the ultimate fast-cooking meal. You can have dinner on the table in almost no time, particularly of you do the prep work in advance. Or, if you're at the store and want to start cooking as soon as you get home, you can buy some of the ingredients prepped for you.

For the beef stir fry, I picked up a package of prepared stir-fry vegetables, and added some extra onion, just because I like it.

Beef for stir fry can come from any number of cuts, so ask the butcher what's good at a good price. Flank steak works well, as do many other steak cuts. You can certainly buy a steak and slice it yourself for your stir fry, but you can also buy it pre-sliced and ready to cook.

You can use leaner cuts of meat for stir-fry as long as you keep in mind that they should be cooked quickly and cooked no more than medium rare.

Stir fry isn't all about meat, though, so I've got another option for you - shrimp. You don't need to buy super-huge shrimp for your stir fry - medium shrimp are just fine. If you buy shell-on shrimp, you'll need to remove the shells and de-vein them. Or, buy them already cleaned. Either way, they cook very quickly.

My preferred side dish to go with a stir fry is rice. That's the longest-cooking item for this meal, but if you've got a rice cooker you can set it up well in advance to have the rice ready when you get home, One of my favorite things to do is to add just a pinch of saffrom when I cook the rice. It adds rich flavor and glorious color.

Beef Stir Fry

1 tablespoon high-heat oil (like peanut)
1 package stir-fry vegetables
1 onion, quartered and sliced
1/2 pound beef for stir fry
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Rice (for serving)

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed frying pan.

Add the vegetables and the onion, and stir fry until they begin to soften. Add the beef and the red pepper flakes, and cook until the beef is browned on all sides.

Combine the soy sauce and cornstarch, and stir to combine. Add this to the wok, and stir quickly  to coat the meat and vegetables.

Serve immediately.

Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry

1 tablespoon high-heat oil (like peanut)
1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper (or a combination), seeded and thinly sliced
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
Pinch of salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes (more to taste)
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and de-veined.
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy-heavy bottomed frying pan. Add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper flakes. Stir-fry until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the shrimp and cook until they become opaque. Add the tomato paste and stir until combined. Serve immediately.

For information on Whole Foods Friday, see the tab at the top.