Stir fries Suck

When I was first becoming vegetarian I made a lot of stir fries. I remember the very first – armed with a 15 year old bottle of China Lily Soy Sauce, I had little idea how to cook so my broccoli was mush and the whole dish was black because I put about 1/2 cup of that “soy sauce with a cult following” in the pan.

Things got a little better in the next few years and I started using recipes from The Vegetarian Times and eventually Soy Not Oi. (This was before all the gourmet vegan cookbooks sprung up from every crack in the sidewalk. This was way before the internet.) Stir fries though… they only got marginally better from that first shot – whether I was making it myself or eating them in restaurants.

The quintessential stir fry usually has zucchini in it, a vegetable I down right distrust. It often has cornstarch to thicken the “sauce” that is included. It usually has half-cooked carrots. It is a bland, yucky looking, mind numbing affair.

My last and final stir fry was at a cousin’s wedding many many years ago. While the others were scarfing down their roast beef, potato salad and pasta bolognese, I was served a lump of inedible hideousness. The “sauce” was gloopy cornstarch, the veggies either mush or under cooked, even the RICE was under cooked. I could not believe a human being with some kind of chef certificate could have made such a thing. The other option, the meat option, of course was not appealing – but at least it looked like the person knew what they were doing! So I swore off stir fries for the rest of my life.

Now, just to make it clear, stir fries are very different than stir fried rice and rice/dragon bowls (which I will get into in just a few). Fried rice dishes are delish. They usually have enough oil and salt to make you forget you’re mostly likely eating frozen peas and carrots. They often have 5 Chinese Spice Powder, which is a very interesting combo, garlic and ginger. Ask your banquet Joe Blow Chef about putting ginger in your stir fry and he will look at you bug eyed.

If stir fries are food of the devil, rice bowls, or dragon bowls, are a gift from the gods. What makes a good rice bowl? Rice, or some other grain, plenty of veggies still crispy, some nuts or seeds, often seasoned tofu and a sauce. No cornstarch sludge here. The sauce is usually some super yummy thing like tahini spinach or miso ginger. The key is that everything is laid in your bowl separately. First the grain, then the veg, then the sprinkling of this and that, the tofu, the sauce. It all goes in and gets mixed around in your tummy, but before that happens your meal looks so much better when it’s in layers. I think it tastes better too!

The best thing about rice bowls is that you can keep a bit of everything as left overs and have whole new different rice bowls the next day by either changing up the sauce, sprinklings, adding a new veggie. When you’ve got a broken heart you sometimes need both ease of eating and variety.

Here’s the one I did today:

You'll never eat another stir fry again!

This is one healthy meal I tell ya!

Heavenly Dragon Bowl

Grain: mix of rice and millet. Had both laying around. Cooked with a bit of tumeric.

Veg: onions, garlic, ginger, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, raw cabbage (it’s so much better than cooked!) Start with the onions, garlic, ginger and cauliflower. When just about done add the broccoli and peas. Cook until broc is dark green. Then turn off heat and add the cabbage.

Flavours: I put some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and freshly ground pepper at the beginning.

Sprinklings: raw sunflower seeds and pistachios.

Sauce: I often use creamy salad dressing. Easy. Quick. I don’t eat much salad so it’s always sitting around. This time I used Annie’s Organic Goddess.

As inferred – you can do whatever the heck you want!

Broken Heart Vegan Tip #5: Listen to both happy and sad music. I know you just want to wallow in your bed listening to Morrisey, but come kid! There’s plenty of music out there to make you smile – and you need that right now. Smiles don’t come as freely as they use to before you got your heart broke.

Broken Heart Song #5: (I’m rather obsessed with this song) (Be thankful that you and your roommate don’t share the same single set of clothes)


May 16, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . entree.

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