Stir-Fries: The Harried Cook’s Best Friend

Asparagus and Cauliflower Stir FryStir fry with fresh asparagus and cauliflower.  I have recently discovered that I am a Fan of Cauliflower.

So, yes, I want to make sure that I'm showing you guys a balanced view of what we are eating.  And yes, we're drinking green smoothies, buying organic as much as possible and generally Behaving Ourselves.  But one thing I'm not doing is spending hours and hours churning butter and making yogurt and cheese.  I'm not dehydrating foods at temperatures under 140F to keep from destroying all the enzymes.  Not that any of those things are bad things.  Maybe one day, I'll be homesteading along with the best of them, but for now, I am balancing (see--there's that word again) healthier eating and still-being-able-to-watch-reality-television.

And that, my friends, is where the stir fry comes in.  Today, I made a stir fry for lunch.  It took 6 minutes.  Seriously.  Six Minutes!  That's less time than it takes for me to brew a cup of tea.  It's less time than it takes The Beloved to floss and brush.  It's less time than it takes to pay bills online.

Zucchini, Carrot & Green Bean Stir FryZucchini, squash, carrots & onions made a Very Yum stir fry for The Beloved the other day.

There are a couple of secrets to making a lightning-quick stir fry.

Secret 1:  Always have rice in the fridge.  Make use of your fancy-schmancy rice cooker or, if you're like me, be your own not-so-fancy-schmancy rice cooker.  My rule of thumb for cooking rice is 1:2 rice to liquid and 15-18 minutes for white rice and 45-50 minutes for brown rice.  I've heard that you can soak your brown rice in the pre-measured cooking water all day, putting it on the stove closer to dinner.  Supposedly, the soak magically lets the rice be ready in the time it takes to cook white rice.  I haven't tried it yet, but I will.  I also love lemon zest and soy sauce in rice.  Try it--it's lovely.
Secret 2:  Always have a bunch of vegetables ready to go.  Either fresh or frozen.  Make sure they're cut up into reasonable-to-shove-into-your-face pieces.
Secret 3:  Soy sauce, fish sauce, pineapple juice and peanut butter.  It's my secret sauce.  It's magically delicious.

Pepper, Green Bean, Pea and Pineapple Stir Fry

This one has baby broccoli, peppers, onions, green beans, peas and some pineapple, just for fun.

Lightning-Fast Stir-Fry
I have a small stir fry pan that is perfect for two.  I do wish I hadn't gotten rid of my Awesome hand-hammered wok during one of my Ascetic Purges from a few years ago.  You don't have to have a wok/stir fry pan, but it sure helps.

  • Peanut oil or other neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point
  • a mixture of happy vegetables, fresh or frozen.  Whatever you like.  Your choice.
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)
  • soy sauce (about 2 tablespoons or so)
  • fish sauce (just a splash)
  • smooth peanut butter (we use about a tablespoon of natural peanut butter)
  • pineapple juice (a biggish splash)
  • cooked, cooled rice

Preheat your wok/stir fry pan over high heat for a minute.

Add about a tablespoon or so of oil.

First, cook the beaten egg.  This won't take long.  Just scramble it or let it fry in a thin sheet.  Reserve for later.

Add a bit more oil, and then stir fry your vegetables.  Start with the sturdier ones and add the more delicate ones later.  The whole Vegetable Cooking Process should only take 4-5 minutes.

Add the magical sauce ingredients and stir around until you can't see any lumps of peanut butter.

Add as much or as little rice as you'd like.  Heck, you could leave the rice out altogether and add some cooked noodles to this, if you want.

Stick the egg back in there (if you cooked an egg), and stir everything around until the rice is hot and has soaked up all the sauce.

Put on plate. Put in face.

This is really tasty, really easy and rather good for you if you:

  1. don't use too much oil or peanut butter
  2. don't eat a whole vat of it in one sitting

You can also add some protein in the form of meat, tofu or some other meat substitute.  I've cut up a frozen veggie burger and stir fried that puppy up right along with everything else.  It works surprisingly well.

You don't have to use the same magically delicious sauce that I use.  Use what you like. I rarely make exactly the same sauce twice, so switch it up to keep it interesting.

So, that's about it.  Enjoy, and have a lovely day!


  1. says

    Dear dear, I love stir fry. Thing is, I’d eat a whole vat of it. A small Nella22 secret? Her last meal would be Stir fry and Potato Salad, side by side. Can you say carb-over-load?! Yeah…Craving this right now! 🙂 Thanks for sharing dear!

    • says

      I like the way you think, Nelly! I actually was able to save some of my lunch one to give to The Beloved for dinner, along w/okra&onions w/paprika a la Tanvi. He loved it!

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