Veggies Starring as....Themselves

Versatile, Versatile Veggies

This winter, close on the heels of my discovery that things like red cabbage and sweet potatoes make great stir fry additions, I’ve been stir frying veggies at least once a week.  I just can’t get enough of the rainbow-in-a-bowl opportunity that stir fries offer.  And our organic produce delivery has been choc full of bok choy!

I’ve been stir fying for years (maybe decades), and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve gotten a little bit sloppy with my technique.  This is why following a chop suey recipe exactly may have led to my big culinary breakthrough of the season.  You see, I’m pretty good at ordering my cooking tasks in terms of how long things take to cook, and this has led me to develop a habit of “stir frying” by gradually adding veggies to the wok in descending order of cooking time, such that the wok is more crowded with every addition.  Too often, my “stir fries” were just bowls of steamed, soupy vegetables.

Enter this chop suey recipe.  Note that the recipe calls for the vegetables to be stir fried individually.  This makes a world of difference.  Now, regardless of whether I’m making chop suey, I use this technique so that I can ensure that each vegetable is cooked properly. I use ginger and garlic for my aromatics, and I often deglaze the pan at the end with a splash of mirin — a sweet Chinese rice wine — because I have found that it balances the occasionally bitter aftertaste of cruciferous vegetables like bok choy.  And that, my friends, leaves me with a bowl of perfectly cooked veggies that can be used in any number of ways.

Tonight, I came home to a fridge that contained some of these leftover vegetables and some leftover coconut rice.  I decided to whip up an easy peasy shrimp curry to combine with the veggies into a “new’ dish.  I thawed the shrimp and tossed them with corn starch, salt and pepper.  I sauteed minced shallots in some clarified butter, added 1 Tbs. of madras curry powder, cooked for a couple minutes to toast the curry spices.  Then, I added 1 cup of vegetable stock and brought the sauce to a boil.  At that point, I added the shrimp, stirring to let the corn starch thicken the sauce and quickly turning the shrimp.  When the shrimp were almost done, I tossed in my leftover vegetables and mixed.  The vegetables were already cooked perfectly, so they only needed to be reheated by mixing them with the hot sauce. Voila!  Leftovers turned into a new dish in minutes!

This whole process has convinced me that I should start making extra stir fried vegetables, so that I can come up with more of these quick, flavorful uses for them!