By Diane Rossen Worthington
Years ago, I wrote a stir-fry book for Williams-Sonoma and learned a lot about this cooking process. Stir-frying may be one of the oldest cooking techniques known to man, but it is still one of the most efficient, logical and easiest methods for preparing food.
The trick is to make sure you have everything possible done in advance, from chopping the vegetables to having the final cooking sauce prepared and close at hand. Once you get the hang of how the ingredients are assembled, you can branch out by tailoring stir-fry dishes to your personal tastes.
Look for a wok that is made of heavy aluminum, stainless steel or traditional cast-iron. Make sure it is not too thick, though, or it will take too long to heat up. A 14-inch diameter wok is probably the best all-around size, since it can be used to cook a whole fish or a simple sampling of your favorite vegetables. A cover is important when you want to stir-fry something, then have it finish braising in the wok. You may need to use a wok ring if the bottom of the wok is rounded.
You’ll love this quick-to-prepare and incredibly flavorful stir-fry. This spicy lamb dish is paired with tender strips of Japanese eggplant. Serve it with steamed white rice and a colorful vegetable. You can use lamb flank steak for this dish as well. Ask your butcher to cut it for you. This marinade also works great with cut-up chicken thighs. Serve this with steamed rice.
Stir-Fried Lamb with Eggplant and Scallions
- 1 pound boneless leg of lamb, sirloin or flank steak, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch-thick strips
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 4 Japanese eggplants, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch-thick strips
- 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
For the marinade:
- 1 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons chili paste with garlic
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chicken or beef stock or water
- Whisk the egg white, soy sauce and cornstarch together in a medium bowl and mix to dissolve the cornstarch. Add the lamb and toss to coat, marinating for 15 minutes to 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- In a small bowl combine the vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili paste and sesame oil and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In a wok over high heat add 2 tablespoons of oil, swirling to coat the sides. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the eggplant slices and toss every 15 to 20 seconds for 3 to 4 minutes or until the eggplant is slightly softened. Briefly toss the scallions in the wok with the eggplant for a minute and then reserve in a bowl.
- Add the remaining oil to the wok on high heat, swirling around to coat the sides of the wok. When the oil is very hot but not smoking add half of the lamb and toss every 15 to 20 seconds for 3 to 4 minutes or until the lamb is brown. Spread the lamb evenly around and up the sides of the wok so that the lamb comes into maximum contact with the heat. Add another tablespoon of oil, if needed, and repeat with the remaining lamb.
- Return the eggplant and scallions to the wok with the lamb and add the sauce. Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring to evenly coat the ingredients. Serve immediately.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.