01 May, 2007

Stir Fry

Probably the first time I tasted stir-fry was in a Chinese restaurant. When I was at Art school and living on a student loan in a rented room, on the short end of the dietary stick, we had a few standby places that we could almost afford to eat out at. I say almost because that nice full feeling of a restaurant meal might be followed by a week of single processed cheese slices between white bread, or fruit and vegetable"curry"made with cucumber, tinned pineapple, onions, generic curry powder and lots of water with chapati made from whole wheat flour, water and margarine. I couldn't afford oil.

So the big treat was Chinese food and we had a nice cheap place known affectionately as the "gag and spew"(Garden View), though the food was far from awful. In those days I always ordered Beef and Broccoli. What can I say? I really wanted broccoli and that was almost the only dish that had it. Broccoli has always been one of my favourites, just as long as it's still almost crunchy. When it's overcooked and gets that strong cabbage flavour and starts to turn yellow, forget it.

Through the years when I was cooking for a family in the frozen isolation of Labrador, one thing that always made sense for dinner was a stir fry. Nobody protested, and even with all the cutting and slicing, it could be served inside of 30 minutes. The longest thing in those days was cooking the rice. With no rice cooker, I had to make boiled rice. I got to be good at it, except when I forgot it and burned it, but with my National rice pot those days are no more.

Now it's a snap to make stir fry. The vegetables here are good, fresh, and there are always seasonal ones in the stores that are wonderful. Yesterday night I picked a likely head of young broccoli at the supermarket. It wasn't too big, or too woody, perfect to slice up with the stem, which I didn't even have to peel. I had a small red pepper, some onions, green onions, garlic, and fresh ginger already in my kitchen. And I had the second half of a four-pack of the triangle-shaped agedofu (fried tofu). Lately I've discovered that fried tofu comes in many shapes and sizes and it's just great to cut up and throw in dishes for protein. A vegetarian convenience food par excellence.

Soak the tofu in hot water for a minute; it makes it easier to cut up.

So as a late breakfast, I had a bowl of my ever-faithful gen-mai (brown rice) with the stir fry on top. A nice cup of black coffee, and fresh pineapple rounded off the meal. Sometimes happiness is just good home cooked food -- with real oil.

Young Broccoli and Agedofu Stir-fry

2 triangles ( or more) agedofu -- fried tofu, diced
1 small or medium onion sliced
1 or 2 very small sweet red peppers ( Or about 1/2 the North American size) chunked
1 small head broccoli, sliced
1 -2 Tb tamari sauce, to taste (or soy sauce if you prefer)
3 cloves garlic sliced thinly
a nice salad oil for frying ( I use organic)
sesame seeds, a Tb or two
ginger, about 4-5 cm finger ( 2-3 inches, or to taste ) match-sticked
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Cut up all the vegetables and then put the oil in a wok or large heavy frying pan and when heated, slide in the ginger, garlic and sesame seeds and toast a little, but not too much; light brown should do it. Add the onions and stir fry a bit, as well as the red pepper. Add the broccoli and stir fry a bit, then the agedofu. Toss and fry a minute or two, then add the tamari, and a bit of water and cover the pan briefly to steam the vegetables. Have a look after barely a minute and only cook them until they are tender-crisp. Taste the stir-fry and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve hot and juicy over brown, or other, rice.



Melanie said...

Thanks for the tip about agedoufu! Also, soaking it in water helps get rid of a bit of the oil, eh? =)

Stirfry and genmai, oh my! You should try putting miso and korean red pepper in your stirfries. Fan-tastic, if I do say so myself.

I'll be taking more pictures of my bentou and putting it onto my flickr; will let you know when I get it up.

vegetablej said...

Thanks, Melanie/hari. I'll be looking forward to the bento pictures.

Not really sure where I can get korean red pepper or what it looks like. Is it a fresh vegetable or a powder?

Do you have any suggestions about how much/what kind of miso to use?

Also thanks for correcting my Japanese. Agedofu it is, and I've edited the post.

If you post back, can you leave a link to your blog?

m38967 said...

Hi---vegetablej: I found your blog through a search on google for japanese vegetarian blog. I was looking for one to read up on jap veggie recipes. I have added your blog to my directory of veggie-blogs, if this is not o.k. with you, let me know?

vegetablej said...

Hi m38967:
You're perfectly welcome to link here, in fact, thanks. I'll certainly take a look at your blog list.

So far I have been putting up an eclectic mix of recipes but I promise I am working on developing more vegetarian versions of Japanese recipes. Right now most of them contain fish stock or fish, or meat. As I try them out and get some good ones, I'll post them up.

Just a friendly "heads up" that most people here consider the shortened form of Japanese to be non-kosher. They usually use "J".

Thanks for stopping by!

joey said...

are your stir fry's the same as say a recipe fron the j restrant Shogun's or Icaban. If not do you know where I can find them. Thanks


vegetablej said...


I looked at websites for those retaurants online and skimmed through the menus. I would have to say no, I don't think those restaurants would serve stir-frys, as that's primarily a Chinese method of cooking, not Japanese and those are Japanese-style restaurants. Of course, maybe they would serve stir-frys if they were including dishes from other cultures, but in general, it's not too likely. If you want stir fried dishes, try a Chinese restaurant or even better, make them at home because it's very easy.

Of course my stir fry here is a kind of fusion recipe because I was cooking it in Japan and so included fried tofu(agedofu) and used Japanese soy sauce, but it could be made here with a very firm tofu, maybe one you fried yourself, before putting it in the recipe.

Hope that answers your question?