For a long time, I forgot the beauty and simplicity of a good stir fry. A few weeks ago, I had a random urge to make stir fry, and I’ve made it twice since. I’m on a stir fry kick, as it would seem. There are two main keys to making a successful stir fry: 1) Brown your tofu separately from the vegetables, and 2) You must flavor your stir fry with good stuff, like garlic, ginger, soy sauce, peppers, and herbs. If you don’t, it will be pretty boring. The great thing is that those additions to your stir fry are easy to make, yet add a lot of flavor and interest to the dish.
A mess of vegetables, in a quantity large enough to fill a good-size skillet. My combo included purple cabbage, broccoli, daikon (a type of radish often found in Japanese cooking), carrots, and onions. Cabbage is really great for stir fry, I’ve discovered. Use whatever you have around, or if you’re shopping to make your stir fry, buy whatever combo of vegetables that sounds good. Other options include sugar snap peas, fresh corn, peppers, green beans, bok choy, and many others. Here’s a picture of my heap of vegetables (what I happened to have on hand that day):
In addition to the vegetables, I used tofu to make this a meal. I used organic Westsoy extra firm tofu. Use whatever brand you like, just make sure the tofu is firm or extra firm so that it will stand up to cooking. Don’t use soft tofu because it will fall apart in the pan. Slice the tofu and squeeze each slice with a paper towel to remove some of the excess water. I’ve found this step helps the tofu brown better.
2-3 T neutral-tasting oil (I used expeller-pressed safflower oil)
About 1 T minced ginger (I used the jarred variety, though fresh would be great too)
2 T soy sauce, or more if needed
1/2-1 tsp salt, or more if needed, depending on the level of saltiness you like
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 chopped scallions
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly or finely, depending on your preference
1/2-3/4 cup chopped herbs of your choice (cilantro is especially tasty here, but parsley would work fine too)
1/2 large avocado, or 1 small avocado, cut into slices (optional)
1/3 package soba noodles (I had some left over from something else, but these cook really fast and are easy to do while everything else is cooking)
Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized pot to cook the soba noodles. Meanwhile, slice the tofu and prepare the vegetables. When the water boils, cook the soba noodles for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain when done. Heat about half the oil in one skillet, the other half in the other over medium heat. When hot, place the tofu and the veggies and salt in separate skillets. To the veggie skillet, add the ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic, and soy sauce when the veggies are about half cooked. You’re going for veggies that are still crispy, so keep that in mind when deciding what “half cooked” means in this case. In should take about 10 minutes to cook the veggies enough for the stir fry. The tofu will brown in about 4-5 minutes. Flip, and cook the other side for the same amount of time, adding additional oil if necessary.
When the veggies are cooked, add the herbs and scallions.
To serve the stir fry, place a layer of soba noodles on each plate, topped with the veggies and browned tofu. Add the avocado slices and enjoy.