I could probably spend my entire life trying to figure out the perfect stir fry.
I know it's a "simple" dish, but cooking the veggies just right and getting sauce with the perfect balance of salty to sweet to umami isn't as easy as it seems.
So please keep that in mind when reading this blog post. I'm not a stir fry expert and I don't pretend to be. And I'm still in search of the perfect recipe. But I'm sharing with you my adventures in stir frying through my (ongoing) life-long search for the perfect recipe.
Will I make this recipe as written again? Probably not. But that's not because it wasn't delicious- on the contrary, it was super yummy. I'd highly recommend you trying this recipe or playing around with the "ideas" from this recipe. I just found it too laborious and I don't feel stir fry needs the extra fuss. But that's Cooks Illustrated for you. I love 'em but they can be a bit on the intense side at times...
Click below for the complete recipe:
Note: I followed an adapted version of this Cooks Illustrated recipe from the Simply Recipes site. (I used less mushrooms and added some tofu.) But after comparing both recipes the original sounds a bit better to me, so that's what I'm including here.
Portobello stir fry with ginger and oyster sauce, from Cooks Illustrated
This stir-fry cooks quickly, so have everything chopped and ready before you begin cooking. Serve with steamed white rice.
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 - 8 portobello mushrooms (each 4 to 6 inches), stems discarded, gills removed (scraped with spoon), and cut into 2-inch wedges (about 7 cups) [Can be replaced with any other mushroom]
2 cups carrots (sliced), or other longer-cooking vegetable from the chart below
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup snow peas or other quick-cooking vegetable from the chart below
1 pound leafy greens from chart below
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1. Whisk glaze ingredients in small bowl; whisk sauce ingredients in separate small bowl. In third small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Set bowls aside.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, without stirring, until browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn mushrooms and reduce heat to medium; cook until second sides are browned and mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add glaze mixture and cook, stirring, until glaze is thick and mushrooms are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to plate; rinse skillet clean and dry with paper towels.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Add carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth and cover skillet; cook until carrots are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid evaporates, about 30 seconds. Transfer carrots to plate with mushrooms.
4. Heat remaining teaspoon vegetable oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Add snow peas and bok choy stems or napa cabbage cores and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown and soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add leafy greens and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 1 minute. Push vegetables to sides of skillet to clear center; add garlic-ginger mixture to clearing and cook, mashing mixture with spoon or spatula, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds, then stir mixture into greens.
5. Return all vegetables to skillet along with sauce. Toss to combine and cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and vegetables are coated, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to serving platter, top with sesame seeds, if using, and serve immediately.
Choosing and Preparing Vegetables for a Stir-Fry
Portobello mushrooms and eggplant are the mainstays in our stir-fries. As for the other vegetables, use those called for in the recipe or switch them with another vegetable from the same category below. We recommend using one harder, longer-cooking vegetable paired with quicker-cooking vegetable and a leafy green (either napa cabbage or bok choy).
Longer-cooking vegetables (to yield 2 cups)
4 small carrots, peeled, sliced on bias 1/4 inch thick
1/2 pound broccoli, stalks discarded, florets cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 pound cauliflower, core removed, florets cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 pound medium asparagus, bottoms trimmed, cut on bias into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed, cut on bias into 1 1/2-inch lengths
Quicker-cooking vegetables (to yield 1 cup)
1 medium bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 ounces snow peas, strings and tough ends trimmed
3 medium ribs celery, ends trimmed, cut on bias 1/2 inch thick
1 small zucchini or summer squash, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and cut on bias 1/4 inch thick
Leafy Greens (to yield 2 cups stems and 4 cups greens)
1 small bok choy or napa cabbage (about 1 pound), stems/cores and greens separated, stems/cores cut into 1/4-inch strips, greens into 3/4-inch-thick strips