I love a good stir fry. No, not some mushy plate of frozen vegetables with teriyaki sauce haphazardly tossed on, but a true stir fry, where the vegetables are a bit charred on the outside, tender on the inside, and full of flavor. Now, if you are somebody who knows how to make a good stir fry, you know that the number one rule is not to crowd the pan. This means that in an average-sized wok or frying pan, you can really only make enough for one or two at a time. I don’t know how many times I’ve made a stir fry at my parents’ house where I’d hear:
Them: “What are you making?”
Me: “A stir fry.”
Them: “Can you make me some?”
Another Them: “Me too!”
This limit of one to two servings also makes things difficult for someone like myself. I like to cook four to five servings of a meal at once, so I can pack them up in my mason jars and eat them throughout the week. Last week, I roasted some sweet potatoes in the oven, and they came out just the way vegetables should in a perfect stir fry: 1. a bit charred on the outside, 2.tender on the inside, and 3. full of flavor. So then, if the sweet potatoes came out just like that, why couldn’t I just bake the vegetables to be “stir-fried”? Thus, I began an experiment.
Question: How can I make more than one batch of a stir fry without a commercial-sized wok?
Hypothesis: If I bake the vegetables, they will taste just as delicious as stir fried vegetables and without all of the extra cooking oil. Here is what I did: I planned to make a stir fry with broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and bok choy. Now, my original plan was to bake the bell peppers too, but because I was making so much food, I did not have room for them on my tiny baking sheets. The bok choy would get too crispy in the oven, so I stir fried the bok choy with the bell peppers using the traditional method.
I chopped the broccoli and carrots into evenly-sized pieces. This is important because they will cook more evenly this way. Otherwise, you will get some broccoli pieces that are raw and some that are over-cooked. I put all of the vegetables into a big bowl, tossed them in just enough grape seed oil to coat them evenly, seasoned with Mrs. Dash (Original Flavor), and placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet. This detail is important too. You can not have any pieces of vegetable overlapping. Otherwise, you will run into the same problem as a crowded pan and that is the problem that we are trying to avoid in the first place. I baked my vegetables in a 400 degree oven for fifteen minutes. And that was it! I tossed them in a little bit of a store-bought teriyaki sauce and mixed them all together.
The result: The vegetables came out perfect! They tasted just the way they would as if stir fried in a huge wok full of oil. Then, I made some brown rice, and placed a cup of rice in each jar with a huge portion of vegetables. Now I have some delicious stir fried veggies to get me through the week.