Wednesday, 27 August 2008

How the stirfry worked out

As I mentioned recently, I tried out a Woolworths own brand stirfry sauce. I also used pre-cut chicken breast strips, so it was low effort. All I had to cut up was the veggies. I used 600g of chicken, and it actually worked out quite well. I made two lemon chicken dinners: one from the wok, one from the microwave.

The trick about reheating stirfry is not to include the vegetables that will go soggy and horrible. The trick about making stirfry is to do all the preparation before you cook. Every single bit, right down to any garnishes. If you're uncertain about timing, you can even start cooking the stirfry after your rice is done - it will keep warm long enough, especially if you have a rice cooker. Or wrap your pot in a towel, or reheat it for a minute in the microwave. The rice is a lot less precious than the vegetables.

So you get your wok hot and cook the meat - I like to use a little sesame oil as well as the plain light oil. Garlic and ginger go in at this stage, too. You can remove the meat and add it back later, and many recipes suggest this. But I generally just toss the hard vegetables in when the meat is nearly done. Stirfry for a couple of minutes, then add the softer vegetables and the sauce. When you serve it, pick out all the delicate crisp veggies to eat immediately. When you reheat it, simply steam up a few more veggies to mix in at the last minute.

The vegetables that I'll reheat are mostly onion, carrot, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, cauliflower, mushrooms and cabbage. The capsicum, snow peas, broccoli, bok choy, gai lan and such are much better freshly cooked than reheated. Your preferences might vary a little - if you prefer your onion and carrot very crunchy, for instance. Anyway, it's a simple enough thing to do, especially if you leave the "eat now" veggies in large pieces.

The Woolworth lemon sauce was bad, though. I had, of course, assumed that it would be fluoro yellow, cornflour thickened, sweetish goop, and on that front it did not disappoint. But where was the lemon? How do you make it so totally devoid of lemon flavour? It's a mystery. It wasn't even acid at all. I rescued it rapidly by tossing in the juice of 4 lemons from the garden - small one, lime sized. And some sambal oelek, because everything's better with chilli.

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