Monday, March 16, 2009

Easy vegetarian stir-fry recipes

There are a million vegetarian stir-fry recipes out there, with a wide variety of choices of vegetables you can use and sauces to mix it with. Stir-fry is especially great for vegetarians because you have such a wide range of choices in terms of ingredients and flavors so you’ll never get bored eating them.

Keep in mind when you stir-fry that it’s a faster way of cooking your food over a higher heat. Traditionally, you use a wok, but if you don’t have one, you can make do with a twelve-inch skillet, but you’ll just have to cook the stir-fry in smaller batches so it actually stir-fries instead of stewing in the oil. Peanut oil is a great choice for stir-fries, although vegetable oil will do just fine. Just make sure not to use an oil like olive oil, which smokes and burns at high temperatures that are required for a stir-fry. If you don’t want to use any oil, you can use a heat-resistant cooking spray instead.

When you are making a stir-fry, you can replace any protein in a meat-based recipe with tofu. Keep in mind that tofu only takes a couple of minutes to cook, though, so add it closer to the end of your cooking cycle so you don’t overcook it. Alternatively, you can also cut an eggplant into small cubes and add that to your stir-fry to make it more filling and satisfying.

In terms of vegetables, there is a huge selection of vegetables that you can use, including bok choy, mushrooms, baby corn, and pea pods. However, you need to understand that different vegetables cook at different rates, so you shouldn’t just dump them all in your pan all at once, or you’ll end up with vegetables that are either very overcooked or very undercooked. If you use cauliflower, potatoes, or carrots, cut them into small pieces or thin strips and allow them to cook a bit longer. If you use peas, asparagus, or mushrooms, though, cook those closer to the end of your dish being finished. And, with bean sprouts, herbs, bok choy, spinach, or any other greens, you should add those in the last minute of cooking or they will become wilted and taste more bitter than you meant for them to taste.

A great an easy way to add flavor to your stir-fry is to marinate your ingredients before stir-frying them. Try different pre-made marinades or create your own with teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, or hoison sauce. To spice it up, add some chili paste and fresh ginger to the mix. If you don’t have time to marinade everything before you cook it, or you want to use less dishes, heat up the oil, and add your spices—like fresh ginger, minced garlic, Chinese 5-spice—first, then add your sauces, and then add the ingredients you are including in your stir-fry.

To make it an even bigger dish, serve with rice, which you can serve on the side, or with noodles, which you can mix in with the stir-fry while it’s cooking to combine all the flavors. Even better, depending on what you include in a stir-fry, you can turn it into a wonderful main course or even serve as a smaller side dish to accompany something else.

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