Sometimes we forget about the basics. For me, it was a six-year hiatus from wok-tossed vegetables, a de rigueur dinner accompaniment when I lived in Sydney and London. Why the divergence? Perhaps a small New York kitchen which prohibited the storage of a wok? Or the image of stir-fried vegetables in a sticky goopy sauce from NY-based Thai and Chinese restaurants? Whatever the case, I’m glad they are back.
I still don’t own a wok, but a cast iron skillet will work and save precious cupboard space. The trick to wok-tossed vegetables is to add only a small amount of sauce and cook them until they are crispy. They should be lightly coated in oil and eaten immediately.
The most time consuming aspect of a stir-fry is chopping the vegetables. Buy them already cut, if you must, but be aware that vegetables (and fruit) lose 50% of their Vitamin C content 20 minutes after being exposed to oxygen. Instead, use the slicing, dicing and chopping of vegetables to be meditative and therapeutic. Turn on the music and drift into your own thoughts. If I’m cooking at home, my favorite tunes are from ABC Lounge, an internet radio station that streams from Saint-Tropez. The occasional injection of French seems to help too.
Don’t scrimp on the herbs – they make all the difference. Cilantro and basil are the easiest to work with. Add some shrimp, organic chicken, tofu or fish to make this dish a meal. Enjoy!