When Kelsie and I met we were both vegetarians, and had been for about 10 years prior to that. It was only until we moved back to the UK and i could trace my meat from the local butcher (Aberfoyle Butcher) back to the farm, that we began eating meat again.
During my vegetarian days and even now, one of my favourite comfort foods is a big bowl of stir fry over brown rice. I tend to use the same ingredients these days, and the main thing that changes is the green. I go for what's in season and available at the market.
Here's a quick guide to how i prepare veggie stir fry. The 'recipe' below easily serves 4 hungry people.
- Start by getting the brown rice cooking. it takes about 40-45 minutes for it to cook, so by the time you've finished prepping the veg and stir frying it, the rice should be ready. I cook 1 cup raw brown rice to 2-1/3 cup water. bring to the boil, then cover and whack the heat way down. oh, and add a pinch of salt to it as well.
- prepare the 'hot' ingredients. i use 1 habanero seeded and minced, a 2 inch piece of ginger peeled and minced, and about 5 cloves garlic minced. i also add in 1 Tbsp black or white sesame seeds.
- Mushrooms are ever present in my stir frys. I love fresh shitake, but if i can't get any my fallback is chestnut. I've even used reconstituted dried shitakes on occasion. Mushrooms, for a vegetarian, are a good source of Vitamin B. For a big batch of stir fry i use about 400g mushrooms, sliced.
- Tofu is another must-have. I get fresh cakes of tofu from the local Asiamarkt. I prefer to use one big firm block for my stir fry. Cut it up into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Seasoning: tamari or soy sauce, dried basil, rice vinegar and sesame oil. I don't really measure these, but go by sight and smell and taste.
- Greens: One big or two small bunches of whatever you fancy. Back in the states i used a LOT of mustard greens, kale, and rainbow chard. also, purple sprouting broccoli, cavolo nero or broccoli rabe are nice. lately in Berlin i've been getting ginormous bunches of mangold (white chard) in the local market. keep the cut up stalks separate from the cut up leaves as the cooking times vary. if you're using kale leave the woody stalks out.
- To cook: in a very hot wok heat up a couple tablespoons olive oil and add the HOT ingredients. Once brown, add the sliced mushrooms until most of the liquid has cooked away from them and they are starting to brown. add the tofu and season with dried basil and a few splashes of soy sauce. next up add the green stalks and let it cook until they start to become tender. finish up with the greens leaves and a few dashes of rice vinegar. stir fry until everything is cooked and finish off with a couple splashes of sesame oil.
- serve over brown rice in bowls. i like to garnish my stir fry with Nutritional Yeast, another relic from my vegetarian days. it also is a good source of Vitamin B. And, if the habanero i used happens to be killer hot, i soemtime add a dollop of yoghurt as well.
Note on additional ingredients: i've sometimes added in plantain, or steamed winter squash, or diced cooked beetroot, both for the visual contrast and the variation on the standard recipe.
Hint: one of my fave breakfasts is reheated stir fry from the night before. :-)