Really not a lot to say about stir-fries that hasn’t been said before. Using a few pantry staples and whatever vegetables you have on hand, you can whip up something delicious in a matter of minutes. They come in handy especially when, say, you’ve been homebound for a week and are running out of options, and you have scraps of leftover vegetables moping around in the refrigerator begging to be productive in some way.
A new regular in my kitchen that I’ve been using in just about everything that I feel would carry its intense flavour and saltiness – fermented black bean. A little bit goes a long way and the spicy pungency it provides is definitely a game changer in any stir-fry. The next time you make fried rice, add a teaspoon of it to your eggs before you whisk them up and scramble. I tried this neat trick once, and haven’t had it any other way since.
I understand (I do, really) that not every recipe is as blank a canvas as a grilled chicken, but this stir-fry sure is. Add/omit ingredients as you wish and taste taste taste as you go along!
Recipes are not strict rules that you have to play by (stand aside, soufflé), but merely loose parameters that guide you. Believe in your abilities and learn from your mistakes – you will not only have a new pairing combo up your sleeve, but might even chance upon something that you will love that you would not have thought about. This is not a feminist statement, but in my books, the more kitchen empowerment, the better.
INGREDIENTS: (Serves 3 – 4)
Loosely based on Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Stir-fried pork noodles’.
200 grams rice noodles
300 grams minced pork
½ cup chopped baby corn
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
3 stalks of spring onions, chopped (set the tops aside to use as garnish)
1” piece of ginger, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion
2 dried red chillies, halved and de-seeded
3 teaspoons of black bean paste
Soya sauce, to taste
Rice vinegar, to taste
Red chilli flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus extra for the eggs)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons of white sesame seeds
A small handful of peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the rice noodles in a pot of boiling water. Immerse the baby corn into the same pot as the noodles 3 minutes before the noodles are drained. Blanch the broccoli a minute before both are done, and drain out all together. You want the noodles and vegetables to be al dente and still have a bite to it.
Pour the olive oil into a wok/pot over medium heat and toss in the dried red chillies, onions, spring onions (the bottom part), ginger, and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until translucent and lightly browned.
Add the pork into the wok and using a spatula, break up any clumps that are stuck together. Brown the meat thoroughly for a few minutes. Add in the black bean paste, soya sauce, rice vinegar, pepper, and chilli flakes. (Note : start by using 2 teaspoons each of soya sauce and rice vinegar, and taste before adding more). Cook for a few minutes until the rawness of the sauces are cooked off. Taste and adjust seasoning; set aside.
In a skillet, lightly toast the sesame seeds and peanuts; set aside to sprinkle on top later. In the same skillet, add a few teaspoons of olive oil and lightly scramble the eggs, keeping it just a teeny bit runny.
Toss in the noodles and vegetables into the minced pork mixture; add the scrambled eggs and mix through to combine evenly. Add a little water if necessary to loosen out the consistency.
Tip into your serving dish and garnish with the spring onion tops, peanuts, sesame oil and seeds.