Tag Archives: stir fry

Fast Food Reinterpreted

Fast food

Single click to see photo enlarged.

When I cook from a recipe book, I want to create that person’s vision of the meal before tampering with the ingredient list.  That is time consuming.  The other night I was hungry!  I needed some things at Trader Joe’s before dinner and grabbed a bag of “Trader Ming’s” Kung Pao Chicken” on impulse (after reading the label) intending to “wok” a fast meal, and was it fast!

I had purchased a Whole Foods in-store-pre-cut veggie mixture the day before and got that out.  After heating my wok the frozen pre-cooked chicken chunks hit the oil.  When it looked thawed and somewhat heated I dumped in the large package of fresh pre-cut veggies, plus the palm-sized frozen packet of veggies that came with the mix.  I stirred until the veggies were nearly cooked then added one of the two packets of frozen Kung Pao sauce.  Voila! A meal in 5 minutes.  No chopping. No cutting. No measuring. No waiting.  I have a better 5-minute-meal idea for next time, so come back and see, but this was delicious!

The “Trader Mings” Kung Pao Chicken Stir Fry ingredients are real food: chicken dark meat chunks, whole eggs, soy bean oil, water, cornstarch, chili powder, salt, white pepper in the meat chunks.  Frozen veggies were ginger, garlic, green onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, brown onion, fried dried chili, water chestnut, peanuts. Sauce was water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, lime juice, ginger, garlic, green onion.

The veggie combo cut for me by Whole Foods included fresh zucchini chunks, snow peas, summer squash, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, red onion, cauliflower, broccoli, all as fresh as if I had cut them myself.

Without the time-saving ingredients I bought, I would have ended up eating something much less fresh and healthy.



Filed under Chicken, Fast Healthy Cooking, Healthy cooking, meal in minutes, Wok cooking

Stir-Fried Chili Scallops with Baby Bok Choy

Recipe was from: “Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge”; copyright 2010 Simon & Schuster; by Grace Young; p. 154-155.

After choosing my new wok at The Wok Shop, I found the most adorable baby bok choy in a tiny market in SF Chinatown, so selection of this recipe was ingredient driven.  See Grace Young’s cookbook above, for the recipe (buy the book!)

The final result was like going to a terrific Chinese restaurant. The ingredients were perfectly cooked and not a bit overdone. The sauce had a lovely shiny glow:




I learned some basic wok skills while preparing this meal:

1. Get all the ingredients assembled before starting.  Wok-ing is fast!

2. A basic starting routine is to heat the wok, add oil, then aromatics garlic and ginger.

3. Push aside aromatics, then sear protein undisturbed in an even layer for half its cooking time; stir-fry until done, then remove protein to a platter.

4. Stir-fry veggies in oil, then add the protein back in, cover with the sauce, and stir until finished.

I goofed when cooking, because I could not read the entire recipe and simultaneously keep up with the cooking. When the protein was half-cooked I added the veggies and sauce all at the same time and I never moved the protein to a platter.  Oops!  It did not seem to affect the taste any. Everything tasted perfectly prepared. I used prawns instead of scallops.

Next time I plan to reduce the high-sodium ingredients in the sauce because the taste was much too salty for my taste buds.  Typically I cook without added sodium.  I calculated that this meal had almost 2,600 mg sodium and I already had omitted the added salt and used low-sodium broth instead of regular broth.  The above sodium count does not include sodium that may be in the brown rice.

I have been mulling exactly how to reduce the sauce ingredients and still capture authentic Chinese flavor. It must be possible because Chinese restaurant food is less salty than this dish using the recipe as written.  I am not certain how to do it, though.  I plan to research recipes in my 1979 cookbook, “The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook”, by Gloria Bley Miller and see if I can figure that out. I remember thinking that book was very expensive, though in 1979, it was $14.95 for 926 pages.

Tonight I am cooking the same recipe with scallops instead of the prawns I used the first time, and I will alter the sauce to reduce the saltiness, then edit this post to report my experiment.  The easy answer could be to cut salty sauce ingredients in half, but I may try to compensate in some way.


Filed under Wok cooking