Saturday, June 12, 2010

Matt and Shannon's Spicy Basil Stir Fry

One of my favorite things about summer?... Fresh Basil! I had to pinch back a whole lot of basil to force it into branching, and to keep it from flowering. I was going to make pesto, but as I thought about the tremendous amount of produce in my fridge my mind moved to stir-fry. I have the benefit of a husband who used to be a cook in one of Richmond's best Thai restaurants. So, I was the prep cook, choosing my ingredients partially on what I needed to use up, and he was the cook. A wonderful, spicy basil stir fry was the result, and nothing can work such magic as stir fry when it comes to turning that fridge filled with a sea of opaque plastic bags into a beautifully tidy container of deliciousness. Also, I'm thinking this has to be good for you.

These are the veggies we had and therefore, what we used. Be flexible, and don't worry too much about the details of chopping. We had this over short grain brown rice from the bulk bins at Elwoods.

Ingredients: (Serves 6 or so with rice)With this much veg we had to cook this in two batches despite our reasonably sized wok. The tofu to veggie ratio was perfect however and I wouldn't want to change that.

1Quart Green beans- tipped, blanched and cut into thirds.
1 large head broccoli: large base stem removed, cut into small florets with all smaller stems sliced to about 1/8 inch slices.
1 2x2" piece of fresh ginger, pealed
3 cups sweet peas in their shells, deveined
2 medium carrots, sliced into rounds
1 large onion, cut in half horizontally and then sliced on the vertical ( or you can fine chop)
3 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage
1 block extra firm tofu, cubed into 1 inch blocks and boiled for 10 minutes. set aside..lightly dress with oil (I used peanut) to keep from browning.

The sauce: (Forgo the salt, the soy, fish sauce and chili paste will make up for any. )
1 cup chicken broth
1&1/2tsp Thai Chili Paste (with soybean curd), this stuff is very spicy so start small, and season to taste*
5-6 dashes lime juice
7-8 dashes soy sauce
7-8 dashes fish sauce
1&1/2tsp sugar (a guess based on about 4 of my husbands' pinches of sugar)
1/2-3/4 C fresh basil

The process:
Once all your veggies and tofu are prepped, and your sauce ingredients are at hand, it's time to break out the wok or large saute pan.
Heat pan on high until hot. Add 2-3 Tbsp peanut or olive oil (adding some saturated fat like peanut oil will raise the smoking point for the oil ). Add onions, reduce heat to medium-high and cook until tender about 5 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, cabbage, chili paste* ( TO TASTE) and a 1/4 C chicken broth. Bring to simmer and cook for an additional 5 Minutes. Next add the rest of the veggies and tofu and the remaining sauce ingredients (except basil). This is where you can start to season the dish to your preferences by adding more of any of sauce ingredients. Just remember to add a little at a time and taste often. Bring back to a simmer and cook until veggies are to your liking. I add the basil just before removing from the heat and I also twist it up and crunch it in my hands before adding it. I feel it helps to release those tasty oils and the aroma is fantastic. Mix in the basil, plate the rice and serve over top. Enjoy.

I served this with a side of cooling beet salad. It was a nice match. The salad started with beets I had roasted, pealed and refrigerated the night before. For the salad I cut the beets in half and then sliced. I added thinly sliced red onion, and a little feta cheese. I Drizzled on the tiniest amount of grape seed oil and stirred it all together. It's become my new favorite beet salad.

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