This is for all of you A-'s out there ...
Disclaimer: This is the recipe of what I made tonight ... not the be all and end all of stirfry. Below, I will list options and alternatives ... remember: everything is TO TASTE. Also, beware of catchy titles....
Meat (lean steak for stew) - 1/2 lb.
Veggies - 1/2 yellow bell pepper, 1/2 orange bell pepper, 1/2 white onion, 1 carrot
1 big, honkin' thing o' garlic
1 cup jasmin rice
soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium ... if there's too much salt, your stirfry will just taste of salt)
1) Dry rub your meat! Do this by combining spices, and spreading amply over the top layer of meat. mix pieces of meat around using your fingers. Once there seems to be a fairly equal distribution on meat, spread another layer, and spread like crazy. It kind of feels like it did when you were little and you were squishing mud in your fingers. Then ...
2) put sliced pieces of meat into a large ZIP-TIGHT freezer bag. Zip tight is important ... you don't want the marinade to slosh all over the place. Next, it's marinade time!
3) Sploosh (this is a technical term, people ...) whatever cooking oil you are planning on using in your wok/frying pan ... don't go over board, but get enough in there to where you can squish the bag and spread it around to all pieces of meet - but don't squish yet. Then add soy sauce, dijon mustard (I'd say 2-3 teaspoons) ... the mustard will (or at least should) thicken up the olive oil/soy sauce. So don't be afraid if it does that. Then, add half of a lemon's worth of juice. Uhm ... be sure to try to get the lemon seeds before you squish it. Oh ... and take 2 cloves of garlic, and finely chop them. Throw them in the bag too.
4) SEAL THE BAG - if you don't, you have gorgeous marinade all over your floor. Sad day. Once the bag is sealed, work the marinade around the meat. You ideally shouldn't have half of a bag of marinade. Aim for about an 1/8 of the bag ... enough for the meat to sit in, but not drown.
5) Place bag in the fridge ... and wait. how long? well, there are different opinions about this. If you really want the meat to soak it all in, the longer the better. If you want it for flavor, but still want that gorgeous red-meat taste to shine, despite the marinade, then I'd say for about an hour. Again - this is all according to your preference, and your tolerance. If you let it sit longer, and cook it slowly, it will be tender. If you dust it for an hour, then pan sere your steak to a nice medium rare, that's fine to. For the purposes for today, I let mine sit for about 5 hours. I put it in at 1:00 p.m., and took it out at 6:00 p.m.
5) Let's say the marinade time has gone by ... ding! You're ready to chop up vegetables. So chop them. All I had to work with today were some bell peppers, onions, and carrots, which is just fine. You can add your own of whatever veggies you want ... veggies typically tend to be very personal, depending on who's cooking. So have at it. When I was little, I thought there was some mystery in the cutting of vegetables. I thought that if they were cut a certain way, there would be some magical thing that happened in the cooking process, that either made or broke the recipe. This is a ginormous falsehood. Cut them into tiny pieces, cut them into huge chunks - it matter not! Get wild!
6) Once the veggies are cut, boil 2 cups of water for the rice. Once the water is boiling, put the cup of rice in. DO THIS NOW. DO NOT FORGET. Many a good stirfry is over cooked due to the chef's forgetfulness with the rice. I say this from experience. Don't be accused of over cooking just because you're a forgetter. When you put the rice in, turn heat way down to low. Random fact: I've never cooked rice in a rice cooker. It takes about 20 minutes for one cup of rice, fyi. You don't have to touch it again until you're ready to dish it up.
7) Once the rice is set, take out your wok/frying pan. Add enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom -remember, you have a whole bag of meat/marinade to add. Finely chop another 3-4 cloves of garlic. There's a trick in using the flat end of the knife to put a bit of pressure onto the pieces to get the flavor to open up a bit more, and faster. Once you add the pieces to the bottom of your Wok/frying pan, turn on the burner to medium low. WARNING: DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC. That really sucks. All you're wanting to do is heat the pan, at this point.
8) Pour in marinated meat into the pan, with the marinade, of course. Keep it at the same temperature. If you have a dense vegetable, like a carrot, you may want to add that in with the meat - carrots take longer to cook than thinner layered veggies like bell peppers and onions. And I don't usually like crunchy carrots. So I went ahead and threw the slices in.
9) Keep an eye on the meat. move the pieces around to make sure they are browning properly. If the meat looks like it's taking a bath in the marinade, that's more than okay. You're kind of stewing the meat this way, but it assures that a) you're cooking it thoroughly, and b) you're keeping it tender. To speed this up, make sure your meat it covered with a lid ... the marinade should have a light bubble action going on ... remember ... SLOW.
10) Once you feel your meat has cooked enough (you'll notice the pieces shrink a little bit), then add your veggies. This step is dependent on how you like your veggies. If you like them to be crisper, then you can wait even longer. If you like them a little softer, you can add them sooner. Once you add the veggies, I recommend taking the lid off the wok/frying pan. You can keep it on, but it will make your veggies unduly mushy *shakes fist at boiling condensation!*...lift the lid off the rice pot, just to make sure nothing insane is going on, like yellowing rice, and little stove demons.
11) Add two halves of a lemon worth of juice to everything ... and stir. go ahead and give the marinade a taste at this point ... does it need anything? a couple more dashes of soy sauce? more pepper? if it's missing, at it in now.
12) The rice should be done by now, and should look like ...well... cooked rice. Take it off the heat, and let it cool a bit. Now take your stirfry off the heat, but make sure your veggies are at their desired level of soft/hardness. Once it's all done ... crack open a beer, pour a glass of red wine, and serve. You're done!
Recommended Stirfry tunage: Smells Like Teen Spirit, Patti Smith cover; She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, The Beatles; The Ragged Sea, Alexi Murdoch; Silverscreen, Jesca Hoop; Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, The Smiths ...
Sauces/marinades: The stirfry I made above, is kind of a generic Japanese-based stirfry, because of the soy-sauce base. If you want a more Thai-oriented stirfry, I suggest using a pre-packaged curry sauce. You can find these at more stores, in the "Asian aisle" of your grocery store. Also, in that same aisle, there are usually pre-packaged Indian sauces. If you want more of this flavor, I recommend not creating your own marinade, but applying the dry rub to the meat, putting the sauce into the wok/frying pan, then stewing the meat that way. Then, obviously, add your chosen veggies. What I try to achieve in my marinades is a multi-layered experience, which is why I tend to throw different things into it. I do not buy store bought marinades. They taste awful, and end up drowning your meat in whatever god-awful flavor it is. If you use ingredients that ENHANCE, rather than cover up, there's no way your marinade will fail. Other marinade ingredients that can be used in a marinade:
Red Wine (for red meat - any kind of red table wine)
White Wine (for chicken - almost always go for a chardonnay ... other white wines are usually too sweet)
various vinegars (be careful, a little vinegar can go a LONG way)
brown sugar (for red meat)
But try your own ... you never know what you'll like! This is the most exciting part of guerrilla cooking.
Veggies: In an ideal world, I would have had green beans in this stirfry. I thin green beans in stirfry is as important as cream cheese is to cheesecake. It's essential. But ... sometimes, green beans are not to be had. You can use any kind of vegetable you want, just be aware of it's density ... for example ... eggplant is probably going to cook faster than ... oh, say potatoes.
I tend to like these veggies in my stirfry:
yellow, white, green, purple onions
Meat: When you go to the the butcher section, you can almost always find stirfry meat strips. I discourage you from using this, or even stew meat. The problem with these cuts is that they're typically from a tougher part of the cow - and while they're cheaper, they tend to get tough really fast. If you have the cash, get a nice marbleized NY Strip, or tri-tip. These cuts tend to make GREAT stirfry meat. If you can't afford them (NY Strips tend to be a bit pricey), flat iron steaks are another great option, and tend to be cheaper. Here is a site that will teach you all you need to know about choosing steak. Just ignore the part about going to a butcher ... it's nice if you can, but it's not necessary ... but pay attention to the marbling and the cut.
You can use any type of meat you want ... pork, chicken, seafood ... each one takes a different kind of prep. The whole meats like pork/beef steaks or chicken breasts, I recommend cutting into pieces before you cook - this way you're not double cooking. That's the best way to ruin a really great piece of meat. Seafood is quite a bit different, and a bit more finicky. Shrimp is my personal favorite, but with fillets of fish, you can do one of two things. You can cook the fish separately, or you can cut the fillets into cubes and put them in the way you would chicken or beef. Personally, I think this tends to make the fish flaky and fall apart, detracting from more whole pieces. And I like whole pieces. Ah well.
Fancy things: if you're feeling frisky (and have the ingredients), you can add some flair. Sesame seeds, crushed nuts: peanuts, almonds, cashews; sprouts ... sometimes extra crunch just adds a lovely and unexpected texture.
Okay. I think that's enough. My stirfry has been consumed, my beer has been drunk.
Now, on to dessert:
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
This is for all of you A-'s out there ...