What I do remember is that my neighbor, homesick for her native Korea, thought I made the perfect taste-tester. She would cook dishes that were unfamiliar and exotic to my rural Utah taste buds. And, I would gladly eat whatever she made.
The chilies and fermented vegetables, garlic and just-cooked meats were amazing. And, I began to notice that while the flavors and ingredients were sometimes different, the process she used was pretty much the same.
Simplifying Cooking with Systems
I’m a sucker for systems and frameworks that give me an understanding of how to do something, but offer the flexibility to mix and match, alter and adjust. I’m kind of nerdy that way.
The same goes for recipe formulas – my dorm-mate’s cooking was my introduction to this… Understanding the basics of a dish lets me stay true to form, but get creative with ingredients.
Stir-fry just happens to be one of those dishes that lends itself to this sort of structured creativity.
First, a Note on gluten-free and Paleo Stir-fry Sauces
Sauce is essential to stir-fry. And the options are endless. Here are a handful of liquids you can use in stir-fry that you may or may not be familiar with.
GF Tamari Soy Sauce – Soy sauce is often made with wheat. San-J brand is certified gluten-free. If you avoid soy, but still want the tangy, salty taste, try the next item on the list instead.
Liquid Coconut Aminos – Coconut aminos are made from the aged sap of coconut blossoms mixed with salt. Coconut aminos are high in protein, low-glycemic, and full of amino acids. They can be used as a tasty, direct substitute for soy sauce. Coconut Secret brand can be found at Whole Foods stores.
Fish Sauce – Fish sauce is made from…wait now…fish (typically anchovies) and salt. Some brands use water (among other things), as well. It is typically aged for a year or more. And, it is savory and salty and fantastic with fresh lime juice and chilies (which help cut the fishy flavor). I recently found Red Boat brand at a local Asian market – it’s a gluten-free, artisan-quality fish sauce with great flavor.
The Super Simple Formula for Grain-free Stir-fry
The formula I use is fairly routine – a good quality in a formula, I think.
The combinations I make are wholly dependent on what I happen to have in the fridge or are inspired by a trip to the local market. In the photos above, for example, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and garlic scapes were my inspiration – they were lovely with ground pork. In the title image for this post, you’ll see bison stew meat stir-fried with spinach, baby bella mushrooms, and sesame seeds with a bit of avocado on top.
Need more inspiration? Think of favorite Asian cuisines and dishes you like. A Japanese steak-house dinner might include steak, broccoli, carrots and ginger with orange juice, while a Thai dinner might have shrimp or chicken with bell peppers, tomatoes, fish sauce, fresh cilantro, chilies, and lime. Stir-fry these ingredients up for a yummy dinner.
Anything goes. Just follow the formula.
Note on amounts: The amounts in this formula are for one person. Simply multiply by the number of people you are cooking for. Feel free to use other ingredients; the ones I’ve included are fairly common.
|Steps and Amounts||Ingredients Options|
|Choose your protein. You’ll need 3 to 4 ounces of raw meat, seafood, or poultry per person.||Protein – omit if you want vegetables only
|Marinade protein in a bit of liquid while you chop your vegetables and get your pan ready (the liquid will help prevent the meat from burning or overcooking).||Liquids 1 – choose one or a combination, enough to cover your chosen protein
|Preheat a frying pan to medium high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of high-heat cooking fat (ghee, coconut oil).Add 1/4 cup chopped onion/shallots, 1 minced clove garlic, and 1/2” minced ginger/galangal per serving. Stir frequently for one minute.Add protein and cook until just done – cook time will depend on protein. Pour meat and juices into a bowl and set aside.||FRESH Aromatics – chop / mince
|Add 1 more tablespoon of oil to still-hot pan.Add 1/2 cup of vegetables (per person) from this group to the pan.Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.||Vegetable A – longer-cooking vegMake sure they are cut into uniform sizes.
|Add 1 cup of vegetables (per person) from this group to the pan.Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.||Vegetable B – shorter-cooking vegMake sure they are cut into uniform sizes.
|Return meat and juices to pan and stir in with vegetables.Add 3 Tablespoons of liquid per person to the pan.||Liquids 2 – choose 1 or a combination
|Serve your stir-fry in a bowl and sprinkle with your choice of toppings.||Optional Toppings
© Maoomba, Visit maoomba.com for more recipes.