This recipe is intended to set guiding principles rather than be a rigid set of rules to follow. The main thing to remember is that you should go to your fridge or other store of vegetables and chose the fresh ingredients you fancy, preferably those in season. The other thing to remember is that vegetables cook at different speeds and so the ones that take longest should go in first and are followed in order of reducing cooking time. However, cooking time is also influenced by the size of each vegetable. Cooking time therefore has to be judged by the denseness of the vegetable and its cut size.
This recipe is an example of how a stir-fry need not involve using exotic ingredients.
Cooking oil used for frying… sunflower oil and corn oil produce aldehydes at levels 20 times higher than recommended by the World Health Organisation. Olive oil and rapeseed oil produce far fewer harmful chemicals. Aldehydes have been linked to cancer, heart disease and dementia.
Ingredients (to make enough for 4 adults)
- Rapeseed oil – about 1 tablespoon
- Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed and chopped
- Natural soy sauce/shoyu/tamari – 1 tablespoon
- Optional – a thumb-sized piece of ginger chopped
- Optional – fresh chilli seeded and sliced
- Optional – 1 tbsp of cumin powder
- Optional – toasted sesame oil
Variable vegetable ingredients
A mixture of different coloured vegetables – about I kg. For example (in descending order of cooking time):
- Potatoes – cut to pea-sized cubes or sliced thinly
- Carrots – sliced thinly or in strips
- Celery – sliced
- Beetroot – sliced thinly or in strips
- Baby sweetcorn
- Broccoli – broken into smallish florets
- Cauliflower – broken into smallish florets
- Peppers- sliced and chopped
- Cabbage – sliced
- Brussels sprouts – sliced
- Leeks (sliced)
- Mushrooms – sliced
Variable protein ingredients – alternative suggestions
- Almonds – handful pre-fried until expanded
- Sunflower seeds – handful pre-fried until lightly browned
- Cashew nuts – handful uncooked or pre-fried until lightly browned
- Garden peas – frozen or fresh
- Broad beans – frozen or fresh
- Tofu – pieces, cubes etc
- Tablespoon of cornflour, potato flour, or arrowroot
- Half a cup of water
- Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
- Chopped coriander
- Sliced spring onions
- Sliced chilli marinaded in soy sauce/shoyu/tamari
Brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet or noodles (beware of egg noodles). In the demonstration, my noodles will be 200 g of spaghetti (50g per person) broken into 75mm (3 inch) lengths, pre-cooked and added to the stir-fry as noodles.
Large frying pan or wok
- If using, pre-fry nuts or seeds until popped/ light brown. Set aside.
- Heat the oil until it is ready to sizzle the garlic.
- Throw in the garlic (and optional ginger) and keep it moving quickly with a spatula.
- Fry until beginning to brown.
- Add the longest cooking vegetables – stir constantly and with purpose.
- If using celery, this should be added early in the process to develop the taste.
- Sequentially add vegetables judging the length of cooking time so that they are all ‘al dente’ (cooked but not mushy) by the time you stop cooking.
- Add water as necessary to keep the vegetables moist. Add more to develop a sauce if preferred.
- Add soy sauce/shoyu/tamari half way through cooking.
- Add chilli half way through cooking if required.
- When everything is more or less cooked al dente, add nuts and cooked noodles (see below).
- If required, mix the optional sauce and stir into the stir-fry – probably need to add more water.
- Also add a desert spoonful of toasted sesame oil if using.
- Heat through and serve with garnish of choice.