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Bok Choy, Asparagus and Chicken “Stir Fry” Or: Getting a Cool New Camera And Overdocumenting Everything - By Z

Stir fry is pretty damn easy to make, even though purists might say that I’m not really stir frying because I’m not cooking it in a wok. Well, the reason I’m not cooking it in a wok is because:

  1. I don’t have a wok.
  2. Even if I had a wok, my electric stove wouldn’t get hot enough (I plan on ranting about this in later posts).

Anyway, the point is that this is the first meal I made since I got my new camera. On an unrelated-to-food note, the camera is pretty damn awesome. It’s a Canon S90, looks like a point and shoot, operates like one, but has the ability to manually adjust nearly all of the settings (aperture, exposure, shutter speed, etc.). So, this post is going to be mostly pictures and not very helpful if you actually wanted to say, make this meal.

The idea for this meal came from a trip to the Heart of the City Farmer’s Market (Civic Center in SF on Wednesdays and Sundays). It’s by my school, so I visit it quite a bit. I got bok choy there as I usually do, but stopped by the mushroom stall which I don’t usually do. They had a pretty good deal: $2 for a bag of tree oyster mushrooms (about double the amount seen below) and I couldn’t pass that up.

Red onions, Asparagus, Bok Choy, Tree Oyster Mushrooms

I rarely make a stir fry without garlic and ginger. I use garlic all the time and ginger takes quite a while to go bad, so I usually have some of both on hand.

Garlic and Ginger

Then, I chopped up all of the veggies (well, in the picture above, the red onions are already julienned), then washed them and spun them dry in my brand new salad spinner.

Asparagus and Bok Choy Ready For a Spin

I got the salad spinner and I must say it was a very considerate gift. My sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her that I like kitchen supplies, but that I don’t have very much room. So, she got me a collapsible salad spinner. You can see in the picture below how small it is. I put a ramekin next to it for reference. And yes, the “ramekin” is a standardized unit of measurement.

Collapsible Salad Spinner... Collapsed

I sauteed the veggies until they were al dente (Italian for “to the tooth”… basically, they still have a bit of bite to them), then added the minced garlic and ginger.

Delicious Blend of Veggies: Red Onions, Bok Choy, Asparagus, Garlic, and Ginger

Now, I generally par-cook (don’t cook it all the way) the meat (in this case, chicken) in a separate pan, then add it to the veggies as seen below.

Follow the arrow... you're definitely going to want to add a Sriracha letter of your own.

Let it cook for a few minutes more, then add sauce. You can see above that I already started with some Sriracha. The sauce is really the key to the dish and I definitely am nowhere near making a good stir fry sauce. I generally add a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and some sort of vinegar (in this case, I used rice vinegar).

You can also thicken it with cornstarch if you think the sauce is too runny. You do this by adding about a teaspoon of cornstarch to the littlest amount of cold water you can imagine and stir it until it’s dissolved. Then pour that solution into the sauce (once it’s in the dish with the stir fry), remove from the heat, and stir. The cornstarch molecules will puff up with the sauce and thicken it. At least I think that’s how it works.

It might be magic though.


  1. Samantha Phillips wrote:

    This looks delicious and I’ll let you know if the “pretty damn easy to make” claim is true as I will undoubtedly be your most challenged student.

    Also, is par-cook a word?

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  2. Z wrote:

    It is pretty damn easy to make, but like everything, takes practice.

    And yep, adding “par” to a cooking verb means you don’t cook it all the way… parboiling is the one I’ve heard of the most.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Permalink
  3. asad wrote:

    “par” is just short for “partial”. The “take and bake” breads you get at the grocery store are par-baked, instant rice is par-boiled, etc.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 7:21 am | Permalink
  4. asad wrote:

    Also, I would argue that par-cooking the chicken in a separate pan sort of violates the spirit of a stir fry, in which you do everything in one pan. I think part of the problem is that your pieces of chicken are too big, so they take too long to cook. If you slice the raw meat thinly, sort of shaving it diagonally downward at a 45-degree angle or so, it’ll cook much more quickly. In that case, I’d switch the order a bit: First garlic and ginger, then chicken, then veg, then sauce.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
  5. Z wrote:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly on all of your points and to be fair, this really shouldn’t be called a stir fry. Appropriate quotation marks have been added.

    Re: meat size: When I’m making a traditional stir fry, I usually put the meat in the freezer for a bit until it’s more firm so it’s easier to slice on a bias.

    Re: the order: I add the garlic and ginger last to make their taste even more sharp.

    However, like I said, you are correct and I will attempt a more traditional stir fry in a later post.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

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  1. Food, By Z › Cleaning Cast Iron on Friday, February 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    [...] gadgets. Now that I think of it, she also got me the collapsible salad spinner I mentioned in an earlier post as a Christmas [...]

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