These cool gray February days have been leaving me sort of uninspired on the cooking side of things. I seemed to have started the new year with a bit of a punch, looked forward to it with a renewed enthusiasm, but of late that has withered and died.
We live in a valley that has been blanketed with thick low gray clouds that even the sun has hardly managed to pierce. As I get older I seem to feel these days worse than I did when I was younger. Also having moved here almost five years ago from the prairies where the sun seemed to shine more often than not, living back here in the mountains which act as a holder for the clouds in the winter and spring seems to make it much harder to deal with. So, I have been using my time to concentrate on my sewing and knitting…all which I do underneath bright lights to keep the darkness at bay. This focus on my crafts has me resenting being pulled away to cook dinner, so this calls for something short on time, long on taste!
One way I choose to break the winter doldrums is to cook something colorful and nutritious. The best way to do that when I have lost the enthusiasm for cooking, is to make a stir fry. The prep work is not intensive, the cooking time is a breeze and the wonderful flavor will have you smiling. Winter? You ask. What winter?
The great thing about stir fry dishes is that you don’t need much in the way for ingredients to whip one up. This day I happened to have hanging out in the freezer a pack of scallops. They are the tiny scallops which work really well for stir fry. Another good thing about stir fry is that no real recipe is required. They are open to about any kind of vegetable and seasoning you have on hand. The one staple I always have on hand in my cupboard is Chinese Oyster Sauce. It is a wonderful seasoning, and once you use it you will never want to be without a bottle of it handy. I frequently cook Asian style so quite often I have fresh ginger on hand and seasonings such as Chinese cooking wine, sesame seed oil and light and dark soy sauces. If you don’t have these on hand don’t sweat it. Make it up with what you have on hand. Dried ginger can be substituted for the fresh, just omit the Chinese cooking wine if you don’t have, and the same goes for the sesame seed oil. If you don’t have soy sauce, oyster sauce or both, you could use a chicken or vegetable based bouillon or stock instead of the water to flavor and make the sauce.
Scallop Vegetable Stir Fry in Oyster Sauce
Marinate scallops with 1 tablespoon of corn or tapioca starch, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine.
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 onion cut into large squares
Fresh sliced mushrooms
Carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
Broccoli florets – Blanched in boiling water mixed with 1/4 teaspoon baking sold and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Drain and set aside.
Stir Fry Sauce:
1 tablespoon Tapioca or corn starch
1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine
1/2 cup water
Multiply this recipe to match the amount of stir fry you are making and how much sauce you want to serve with your dish.
Heat your wok or large frying pan. Saute the onion and ginger lightly. Add the vegetables except for the broccoli and stir fry until tender crisp. Add the scallops and fry for about 3 minutes until the scallops are firm. Add the sauce mixture and stir until it boils and thickens. Add the blanched broccoli and cook for another minute to heat the broccoli. Serve with rice.
So, until the spring sunshine gets here stir fry some up!
Good Day and Good Eats!