February 8 marked the beginning of Chinese New Year which is celebrated through February 22. So Rita’s Basic Stir Fry is just right for this month. You’d think cooking a stir fry would be a snap for me, because I’ve help my mother-in-law chop, stir, sauce and serve many a banquet dish. But neither she nor I measured while we cooked.
Rita’s formula is perfect: 1 cup water plus 1 tablespoon of each sauce ingredient – so it IS a snap! (What wasn’t a snap was our guests driving and parking in San Francisco Chinatown to attend our wedding banquet 32 years ago ON Chinese New Year parade day — I hope they’ve forgiven us by now!). And don’t forget the little red Lai See money envelops this month. Traditional etiquette says adults give Lai See to family and friends (usually $1-100, but here are some guidelines) symbolizing auspiciousness, wealth and good fortune. It’s sometimes a funny exchange of pass-the-envelope.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! And Happy Anniversary Bernie
Basic Stir Fry Recipe
(see printable recipe below)
Vary your stir fry by the vegetables you have on-hand and your choice of chicken, tofu, beef or pork. Or make it completely vegetarian. This time I had a lot of broccoli and leeks from my Riverdog Farm CSA , and some bell pepper leftover from a crudite tray.
Chop vegetables into bite-size pieces to make about 4 cups.
Stir together 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon each cornstarch, cream sherry, oyster sauce and soy sauce plus 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.
Add chopped garlic and fresh ginger to a hot skillet or wok with 1 Tbsp oil. Check Rita’s tips for freezer ready ginger and garlic. I use my Circulon 14-inch Stir Fry pan over medium-high heat, or use your widest skillet.
Brown chicken, or your choice of beef, tofu, pork. Remove meat to a plate.
Add vegetables; stir fry about 2 minutes. I added the leeks with the vegetables. If using yellow onion, see Rita’s instructions below.
Return chicken to pan and add sauce. Cook over high heat stirring constantly until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately over hot cooked rice. Top with toasted cashews if desired.
Print This Recipe
Rita’s Basic Stir Fry
enough for 2 servings with rice
7-8 oz. boneless chicken, pork or beef, sliced
1+ Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup water (3/4 cup for thicker sauce or use a bit more cornstarch)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. soy sauce (low sodium or regular)
1 Tbsp. cream sherry (Christian Brothers or any inexpensive brand)
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand or your choice)
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (Dynasty 5 oz bottle, or your favorite brand)
1 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic (or freezer ready)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (or freezer ready)
1/2 cup large-dice yellow or white onion (or 1/2 small onion)
1 large stalk celery, sliced (optional)
3-4 cups cut-up veggies (broccoli, asparagus, green beans, snow peas, carrots)
Cashews (optional garnish)
Place sliced chicken in a small bowl and drizzle with soy sauce. Stir to coat chicken; set aside.
Measure water. Stir in cornstarch and remaining sauce ingredients; set aside.
In a large sauté pan, gently cook garlic and ginger in oil for about 1 minute. Increase heat and add chicken; stir-fry until almost cooked. Transfer to a warm plate.
Add onion to pan; stir-fry 1 minute. Add veggies and continue to stir-fry 1-2 minutes.*
Stir sauce well and pour into pan. Cook 1-2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in cooked chicken; heat through. Serve immediately with hot steamed rice. Sprinkle with cashews, if desired.
* Rita’s Kitchen Notes:
Do not overcook chicken and veggies. Veggies should be crisp; they will continue to cook in the sauce.
Additional peanut oil may be needed for the vegetables. If the pan gets too dry, simply splash in a bit of water or some of the un-stirred sauce. If the pan browns a bit, that adds flavor to the stir-fry!
*Rosie’s Kitchen Notes:
Adjust the amount of garlic and ginger to your taste. I like lots of ginger and little less garlic.
Add chopped fresh cilantro; top with peanuts or almonds instead of cashews.
Photos taken with IPhone by Rosie