March 07, 2007

I Need A Bigger Wok... and Kitchen

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Stir-frys are great. They’re quick, they’re easy and you can put pretty much anything you want into them. You’d think that they’re sort of hard to mess up… I usually run into problems because I try to add way too much to the wok. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I end up cooking in two or three pans because otherwise I’d be waiting forever just to heat the peppers. I always underestimate how much food my stir fry will make too. I usually start with a reasonable amount of ingredients, but then I start throwing in that half a pepper that’s sitting in the fridge, or those couple mushrooms that need to be eaten and while I’m at it, why not add some bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and a carrot? Somehow, it doesn’t look like too much when the ingredients are sitting on the counter but then I chop them, and chopping seems to multiply everything by a factor of at least 37. Suddenly I feel as though I’m swimming in veggies. The good thing is that if I give them enough room in the wok, they shrink back down again. It’s finding room for everyone that’s the problem.

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The other reason that I like stir-frys so much is that by swapping a few ingredients in the sauce, you get a completely different flavour. I’m always looking for new combinations too, so if you’ve got a favourite stir-fry sauce, send it my way!

As I was making my stir fry today, I was thinking about kitchen tools that I love that are often overlooked. One of those things is my Lee Valley microplane. It’s perfect for grating hard things like parmesan or frozen ginger, (I always freeze my ginger, it makes it much easier to grate) but it also zests citrus fruit like nobody’s business. I don’t know how people survive without one. The other thing I love is my bench scraper. Anytime I’m dealing with dough or things that are sticky the bench scraper comes to my rescue and cleans off the counter in one fell swoop. It’s also useful for transporting peels from the counter to the compost bucket or waving menacingly at someone who’s trying to steal food while you cook.

What’s your favourite little gadget? I’m always looking for more ways to clutter up the kitchen. Bring ‘em on.

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Pork, Beef & Veggie Stir Fry (Adapted from The Ultimate Chinese and Asian Cookbook, Ed. Linda Doeser)

8 oz can of pineapple chunks

1 T cornstarch

2 T light soy sauce

1 T red wine

1 T brown sugar

1 T rice wine vinegar

1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder

2 tsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

1 pork chop

1 steak (of similar size to the pork chop)

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

3 mushrooms

2 stalks broccoli

6 oz snow peas

4 oz bean sprouts

1 can of bamboo shoots

1 T sesame seeds, toasted

Jasmine rice

Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice. To make the sauce mixture, combine the cornstarch with the reserved pineapple liquid. Add the soy sauce, win, vinegar and 5 spice powder, stir to mix and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add
the garlic, chili and ginger and stir for 30 sec. Add the pork and beef and allow to cook through. Remove the meat. Add the broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, snow peas and stir fry until desired tenderness is almost reached. Add the bean sprouts and bamboo shoots, stir to combine.

Pour in the sauce mixture and reserved pineapple and stir until sauce thickens.

Serve over jasmine rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Mia said...

I got a microplane grater for Christmas, and I really don't know how I managed before. It's almost like magic! Other than that, I'm not very gadget-oriented, sadly.

Your stir-fry is making me monstrously hungry! I usually use a sauce with sherry, soy sauce, red wine vinegar and brown sugar (and cornstarch), but I think I'll give yours a try this weekend!

Gattina Cheung said...

Brliynn, me too always ended up 2 or 3 pans! And the stove, I don't know why whenever I add one more ingredient, the flame suddenly looks so lifeless?... But hey, splendid stir-fry you made!

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite gadgets is a cheese grater from Ikea. There are two grater tops (one course and one fine) that fit on an oval tupperware container, with a separate lid, so you can grate things right into the container, and then store whatever you don't use. Though if it's cheese, I never have extra to store.

I also loooove my microplane, it is the best grater around. and I have to say, despite being a pain in the arse to clean, Forman grills are pretty handy, too.

Anonymous said...

I meant one of the grater tops is coarse. It's great that I work in publishing and all. I sure know how to spell. :-)

Cheryl said...

Its not even 10am here and I am craving stir fry now for lunch.

Believe it or not my favorite kitchen gadget is my $1.00 spatula. I have bought more expensive ones and I go back to this little cheap black spatula every time.

mickey said...

Beautiful stir-fry. It's my dream to some day have a restaurant style wok in my kitchen, but there isn't alot of room left right now.

sher said...

I love stir fried foods, and your photo is to die for! Fabulous! I would like to have a cook top with the special burner made for woks. And a really huge wok, so that I could make large amouints of fried rice and stir fries! :) I love that microplaner. I'm always looking for a new one. I use mine so often, they get dull.

I love to get kitchen gadgets. Just put my in front of that secion in Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table and I'm one happy woman! I think my very favorite gadget (right now) is my ricer. Love that thing.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I love the way you styled the food in the photo Brilynn. It looks delicious!

I've got very few gadgets, but I love my mini whisker from IKEA. It's great for salad dressings and sauces.

Peabody said...

I love my nutmeg grinder.

wheresmymind said...

Favorite gadget has to be my keen pepper mill!

s'kat said...

That is one beautiful throw-down! The tools make it nicer, but you seem to have made it one zen little pile.

Anonymous said...

i think my most used kitchen gadget would deffinatly have to be my timers. i used them at least 5 times a day.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That looks so lovely but my fork is having a terrible time getting a bite. Ah well. Gadges that work make me happy but I also like the the best thing I've found to peel ginger is a tea spoon.