simple stir fry

simplestirfryMy second year of college my friends and I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment together…and for the first time in our lives, were responsible for feeding ourselves. I had grown up helping my mom cook and I could follow recipes well enough, but other than baking, let’s just say my repertoire in the kitchen didn’t extend much past sandwiches and fried eggs.

So I started experimenting and came up with a sort of modified version of a Thai stir-fry. Similar to ones I’ve seen or helped my mom make, though I don’t think I’ve seen this particular one anywhere else but my own kitchen. It was easy to make, really forgiving. There’s plenty of room for swapping out ingredients and trying different ones. And so tasty it’s still a solid fall back meal that has satisfied roommates, boyfriends, and now even husband 11 years later. So much so, when I taste it now, it tastes like nostalgia.

What you’ll need:
Chicken or tofu (for two people I use 1 breast, but use however much looks satisfying; like I said, really forgiving)
1 bell pepper (though I use 2 halves, each a different color)
Onion (about 1/3…or whatever looks like a good amount to you)
Shitake mushrooms (3-5)
Bean sprouts (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves
Canola oil
Maggi sauce
Rice vinegar
Oyster sauce (optional)
Dried red pepper (to taste)

If you haven’t seen those sauces before, here’s what they look like:
The oyster sauce is totally optional, so this dish can be totally vegan-friendly.

Here’s what you do:

1. Slice chicken or tofu into bite-size strips. Slice bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Mince garlic.

2. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add garlic. When garlic becomes fragrant, add chicken or tofu and mushrooms. Add about 6-8 splashes of Maggi sauce. Stir-fry until browned. Add bell pepper. Splash about 3-4 splashes of oyster sauce and 5-6 splashes of rice vinegar. When the bell pepper starts to soften and chicken or tofu looks nearly cooked, add the onion.  Stir-fry to mix.

3. Do a little taste test. If it’s too salty add a little more vinegar. If it’s too sour add a little more Maggi. If it seems on the bland side, add more of both. Don’t worry overmuch if it’s a little intense; the extra flavor goes well with rice. Of course…if you were REALLY sauce-happy, you could probably just drain some of it off. Once you’ve gotten the right balance to your taste, add dried red pepper to taste. In the last minute of cooking, throw in a handful of bean sprouts. Don’t overcook them. You want them to still be crunchy when you serve them.

And voila! Serve with rice. If you want to impress your dinner companions, you can garnish it with some chopped green onion and bean sprouts on the side.

It’s a great way to get a good balance of protein and veggies and, served with brown rice, you get your fiber and carbs. It might even be kid-friendly too. I remember I used to eat my veggies when I was a kid primarily because of my mom’s stir-fries. They’re harder to avoid when they’re all mixed in, and covered in a yummy sauce they become much more palatable.

If you’re not a fan of these particular veggies, give this a go with just chicken and shredded cabbage. In that case, all you need is the Maggi and rice vinegar for the sauce, and you’ll want to err a little more on the side of the vinegar.

Update: after originally posting this, I came across the 365 recipe swap hosted by Simply Modern Mom, so I’m linking up. Check it out! Looks like lots of great recipe ideas!

Over-used Recipes Swap

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4 thoughts on “simple stir fry

  1. Maggi is I think a sauce that orginally comes from Switzerland, though it is used in European, Thai and Indonesian cooking. It's kind of like soy sauce – I use it instead of soy sauce – but it does have a different flavor. It's a little more savory. It's really yummy for marinades when mixed with lemon juice. You should be able to find it in most grocery stores. Probably in the Asian/Ethnic foods aisle.

  2. This is so funny because Sean and I were just talking about your stir fry a couple weeks ago and I was trying to remember how to make it. I knew it involved the maggi sauce (which surprisingly I couldn't find. I'll have to go to a bigger Safeway next time). So glad you posted this!