Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wok Up Your Own Creations (Updated)

I promised to share my Wok Star "Easy Style", Mix and Match way of shopping and cooking in my cast iron wok. Buy what's fresh and seasonal and you cannot go wrong. In Stir frying without a recipe, there are tips on how to achieve it.

Here's the lowdown:
Monday: I buy a variety of veggies and protein.

I start off using the salmon to fry with red kale, red bell pepper and sweet corn. Stick with using only 2-3 veggies per dish. Keeps the prepping simple and quick. When you have too many different flavors, your taste buds cannot appreciate the uniqueness of each ingredient and becomes a mish mash (Ralph's description).

Cut salmon fillet into smaller meal portions and put into separate zip loc bags (see photo).

TIP - I learned from the Costco fishmonger is to add just a tablespoon of cold water into the zip loc bags with your fish to prevent freezer burn. It works like MAGIC! Your fish is like FRESH when you defrost and doesn't change the texture of your fish. Mark Bittman, The Minimalist in New York Times wrote a whole article with fabulous tips on how to freeze foods from fresh strawberries to stock.

Here's Mark Bittman's 10 Ingredient Shopping Trip which is based on the same concept of my Mix and Match technique.

Cube salmon into biggish chunks, marinade with TSPC (tamari, sherry, pepper (white) and cornstarch) PLUS sprinkling of curry powder, this little kicker really spices up your protein (I can have curry everyday and never get sick of it. The smell is so enticing and conjures up lots of good memories of my mom's cooking!)

TIP - put curry powder into a cheese shaker (it's just above the cutting board) cause it has tons of holes. Same concept as my flour shaker for cornstarch, great distribution. Makes it convenient so you use it!

Red kale is cut into biggish chunks. Cut red bell pepper into largish chunks.

TIP - For the corn (sorry, I don't have photo of this) - instead of holding the cob vertical like you see most chefs do and the kernels fly all over. I cut horizontally along the length of cob, so you don't slip and the kernels land right on your chopping board.

Of course, we always have shredded ginger and diced garlic (G & G) and two scallions chopped diagonally.

TIP - chop and leave your veggies on one chopping board, saves washing up individual dishes to hold each ingredient. Tuck grocery bag under the board so you can flip your trimmings onto it. After you're done, roll up and throw in the bin. Tons tell me they love this tip.

Now, we're ready for the stir fry step. You know the rest, fry veggies first, set aside. Fry the salmon, combine and viola! Dinner is READY!

Tuesday - soup with skinless chicken drumsticks, kale, carrot, zuchinni, tomatoes and sweetcorn. I like to add either quinoa or brown rice in to give it texture.

Wednesday - stir fried ground turkey with snowpeas, bok choy and red bell pepper.

Thursday - finish up soup but added some bok choy and more corn.

Friday - finish ground turkey with zuchinni, corn and carrot.

Dinners NEVER taste the same because you are using DIFFERENT fresh ingredients. For those who think "sauce" is what flavors your food, you're using too much TSPC. TSPC "enhances" your ingredients, TSPC should NOT be the flavors you're tasting. If you're tasting TSPC, you've overdone it, so just cut back. On the other hand, if you're finding your dish is not flavorful enough, you may need to add a bit more T (tamari). Tamari is our salt and salt brings out the flavors of your food.

Just keep practicing and tasting, you'll figure out the exact flavor that suits you. That's what being a Wok Star is all about!

Here's link to Linda Gassenheimer's book with same concept on "Mix and Match" meals. Congrats Linda! She just celebrated her 10th anniversary of her NPR radio show, which she has invited me on numerous times.

I hope my Mix and Match technique will give you lots of ideas to Wok Up Your Own Creations!

Love to hear your comments, ask questions or share your tips.
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