The Weekly Organics Box Stir Fry

It had to be done. I fixed a firm expression on my face and told my husband the news, “We’re not having stir fries anymore.”

I waffled vaguely about the taste and textures but really I had no clue why I’d made the decision. I just didn’t want to cook or eat one ever again. Looking back, I know what the problem was: I was using EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT I’d ever seen stir fried:

  • Onions, garlic, green peppers, celery, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, baby corn cobs, chicken, scrambled egg, peanuts, green onions, sauce and rice. All on one plate!

After chopping and frying it all, I was too exhausted to sit down and enjoy the crazy mish mash.

I’ve learned a lot since those days and slowly I’ve come to admit that a stir fry is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be pretty darned tasty. You just have to keep it simple.

Enter, the Weekly Organics Box Stir Fry. No, I don’t throw everything from the box into the wok. That’s so the old me. Instead, I focus on the produce from the Things to Eat First list and design a quick stir fry around two or three veggies. Simple, crisp, fresh and light. I’d make this dish for my hubbie any time, especially on the day that I bring home our organics box.

Why is a stir fry the perfect meal to have on produce-box arrival-day?

  • The tender-crisp cooking highlights the crunchy-fresh veggies.
  • It doesn’t matter which vegetables show up (but see note about sautés below).
  • No reason to head to the grocery store once you’ve opened the box because any protein will work (chicken, shrimp, tofu, pork, egg, ham, cashews, etc. – limit yourself to one or two though!).
  • Its perfect complement is plain white rice or rice noodles so no need to fret much over a side dish.

Open your box, get out your wok and start chopping!

(A Note About Sautés:A sauté is nearly the same as a stir fry but it isn’t associated with Asian flavors (other main difference: To sauté, everything goes in the pan at once; To stir fry, items are cooked separately). If the curly kale and broccolini are too green to ignore but you don’t think they go with the usual stir-fry flavors, don’t use those flavors. Chop them roughly and sauté in a bit of olive oil with 1 inch pieces of chicken (or with a can of drained chickpeas) and some garlic, onions, sea salt and red pepper flakes. Add a drizzle of lemon juice. Serve on a bed of roasted potatoes, rice, creamy polenta or couscous. Add a few shavings of Parmesan cheese over top. Voilà: The Weekly Organics Box Sauté.)

The Weekly Organics Box Stir Fry

Serves 4

This isn’t so much a recipe as a jotting down of what I tend to do with my fresh produce. The veggies and the protein are flexible and the marinade also changes based on what I have on hand, sometimes including tamarind or hot peppers, other times just soy sauce, lime and honey. Stir frying really is so flexible. Use what you have: Chop, cook, eat!

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (Lime also works but there were lemons in my organics box so that’s that.)
  • 1 tbsp hot English-style mustard
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 lb chicken breast sliced in 1/4″ strips
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium sized bok choy, rinsed, cored and chopped roughly
  • several handfuls of sugar snap peas, rinsed

In a medium sized bowl combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, lemon juice, mustard, sesame oil and fish sauce. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with 2 tbsp cold water until smooth. Add this white liquid to the other bowl of liquid ingredients. Add the chicken to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 4 hours.

In a wok or large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium low heat with the ginger and garlic for a minute or two, until it smells awesome. Increase heat to medium-high. Remove chicken pieces form the marinade and add to the wok (it’s o.k. if some liquid adheres to the chicken). Do not discard the marinade. Cook the chicken, stirring continuously until it is lightly browned on all sides. Remove chicken to a plate.

Immediately add the sugar snaps and the bok choy to the pan. Cook for a minute or two while stirring constantly. Add the remaining marinade and continue to cook and stir. When the vegetables are nearly cooked to the desired degree (that is, however you like them. Not to be confused with the usual tender-crisp prescription), return the chicken pieces to the pan. Stir and cook until they’re heated through and no longer pink in the center when cut in half.

Serve with white rice or rice noodles and top it with chopped cashews, sliced green onions and/or cilantro. None of those things were in my organics box so I didn’t use them this time. Maybe next week. Can’t wait to find out!

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  1. #1 by Angela on March 7, 2011 - 9:41 am

    Mmmm sounds good! What do you mean by fish sauce?

    • #2 by cookthestory on March 7, 2011 - 9:49 am

      Thanks! Great question! It’s sometimes called Thai Fish Sauce. You’ll find it at Superstore in the ethnic foods section. It’s a strong flavor and stinky smell but in small quantities like here it doesn’t add a fishy flavor at all, just a round meatiness. There’s a link about it below. But don’t let the description scare you. It’s really a wonderful addition to so many things and you’ve probably eaten it in many dishes over the years without even knowing it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_sauce

    • #3 by cookthestory on March 7, 2011 - 9:59 am

      Oh, and if you don’t want to have to buy fish sauce for the recipe, no worries. You can just leave it out or use 2 tsp tomato paste (whisked in until smooth) instead. Tomato paste imparts a similar kind of “umami” meatiness as fish sauce. (emami = savoriness, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami ).

      But if you’re thinking of getting some fish sauce to try adding to things, don’t stop at Asian foods. It enhances flavor and adds that great round flavor (a bit like mSG, really) to other foods too. And you’d never ever suspect that it was in there. Just use tiny amounts since that’s all you need. See here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/526806

  2. #4 by Liz on March 7, 2011 - 3:17 pm

    Whew! That first quote scared me. Life without stir fries? Hahah!

    I have also been guilty of using too many veggies. I become zealous after a successful treasure hunt, but too much prep can put a damper on things.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    • #5 by cookthestory on March 7, 2011 - 3:19 pm

      I know. But we seriously went years without having them in the house. Then I started to realize that I ordered them ALL THE TIME when we ate out. Duh! Maybe I do like them. Thanks for the comment :).

  3. #6 by Kimberly on March 7, 2011 - 9:29 pm

    Looks delicious. I have a hard time managing the heat for a stir fry. Sometimes it’s not hot enough and other times I’m trying not to burn the house down. Wish I knew how to get THAT right.

    • #7 by cookthestory on March 9, 2011 - 2:39 pm

      I just read a tip somewhere (can’t find it!) to keep a kettle of cold water next to you while stir frying. When you’ve emptied the wok/pan of one veggie and are about to add another, first add a bit of water to cool the pan.

      I’ve never done this but it’s worth a shot. I worry that you could end up steaming things a bit. But if your pan is too cold, you’ll sort of be steaming them and if it’s too hot you’ll be burning them so maybe this is a good middle ground. Let me know if you try it.

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