Friday, June 4, 2010

Jamie Oliver Inspired Stir-Fry

I would like to start this entry talking about the main idea behind this blog. Over the last year my interest in cooking and nutrition has skyrocketed! I have read a lot of flood blogs in that time. I am certain that is what made me want to create my own. However, I want it to be different. I thought for months about how to make one that is different than the rest but the ideas weren't coming. So I decided to just create one anyway. It will be an evolving project that will be only shared with family and friends for now. I will welcome any feedback, ideas or advice on how to improve the blog. I would like this blog to prompt discussion on food, nutrition, as well as ways to make recipes even better and/or healthier. Now onto the entry...

Has anyone watched the Jamie Oliver American Food Revolution? I finally watched the rest of the 6 episode series yesterday. I think what he did was a great thing, that may spark some radical change in the USA. It is great for families to be making healthier choices for themselves and to be more educated, but the US government and agricultural industry has made the food supply system so twisted, that it will take decades, I think, to see nation wide changes. Anyway, the first dish Jamie teaches people is a basic stir-fry with some fresh beef, vegetables and noodles. The important part of this stir-fry is the fresh spices used. The recipe calls for garlic, chili pepper and ginger.

I have never used fresh ginger before! It seems crazy since I love Asian food so much, that I have never tried to create those flavours myself. I refuse to by any pre-made Asian sauces as they are just loaded with salt and sugar, and I need to learn how to make these flavours myself. Fresh ginger has such a beautiful scent! I really liked it, and it will definitely be added to my regular shopping list.

I started off with some olive oil in the pan. Once heated on medium-high heat, I added 2 chopped chili peppers, 2 thumb sized pieces of ginger (chopped), and 2 cloves of garlic. After 1 minute of heating, I added half an onion, chopped. And continued to heat for 3 minutes.

I then added the beef. Now I know this may come as a shock, but I actually touched raw beef with my bare hand and cooked it myself, ahhh! I have to admit though, I only ate one strip of it and then avoided the rest. Once the beef was done I added lots of vegetables: carrots and celery, red bell pepper, water chestnuts and snow peas, in that order.

While this was going on I was preparing the rice vermicelli noodles. I have rarely had success with these in the past. When boiling them, it is so hard to make sure they do not overcook, which turns them into one big rice mass. This time I opted for the soaking method. I filled a bowl full of hot water and soaked them for about 10 to 15 minutes. I think it would have been best to leave them in there for 30 minutes. Usually, this does the trick and they are soft enough. Then you can toss them like this, into the stir fry.

So since my pan was way too full I could not stir fry the noodles with the veggies. The veggies are done though and this is the point where you want to add sesame oil. Sesame oil is not that expensive and has similar health benefits as olive oil. Once I opened the bottle and took a whiff, I knew it was another factor that gave many Asian dishes their distinct flavour. Sesame oil should be added near the end to preserve this flavour. This is the point where I would recommend adding the noodles and letting all the flavours mix together. For me, this is where I topped the plates of noodles with the veggies.

The heat factor here was right up my alley. A little spicy but not too hot. I think I could have added more ginger and sesame oil though, it is all a matter of taste!

Take home message: chilies + garlic + ginger + sesame oil = nice light Asian flavour

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