FD: Dixie Burmeister Column February 04, 2009

Valentine’s Day and stir fry make for a perfect match

The big game is over. Does this signal the end of the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and, of course, Super Bowl eat-a-thon?

Or does the Super Bowl signal Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, along with weddings, birthdays, graduations and ... for heaven’s sake, Dixie, stop it.

But wait! It’s not too late to celebrate the Chinese New Year’s, the year of the ox. Really, it’s never too late for delicious Asian food, especially for Valentine’s Day.

Stir-frying is thought of as a healthy way to cook as long as you go light on the oil and forget the batter-dipped foods that add those extra calories.

Stir-fry makes for a Valentine’s dinner that’s delicious and quick with today’s frozen vegetable stir-fry combinations. I recently used Birds Eye Asian Stir-Fry vegetables that included a garlic-ginger sesame sauce.

We always use half of the package of the sauce, and I sprinkle the dish with some dry roasted peanuts or sliced almonds before serving.

Try adding a few pepper flakes or some hot sesame chili oil for a little kick. Add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth if needed.

There are many great Asian sauces on the market and we like to make our own, too. A sauce my husband, Fred, makes is our favorite.

Fred’s Hot and Spicy Sauce for Stir-Fry Vegetables/Meats

It’s the year of the ox, so use beef in this dish.

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cooking sherry or sake

2 teaspoon sugar or Splenda (to taste)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar — always use rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon Sesame Chili Oil (more or less to taste — we use more)
I always double this in case I need extra. You can add a little water or broth if too thick.

Have all ingredients and mixtures ready before you start to cook.

First cook meat: Use 1/2 pound thinly sliced beef, pork or diced chicken. Toss with a bit of oil and stir-fry quickly. Set aside.

Mix soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, water, cornstarch and sesame oil together, set aside. Stir-fry about 4 cups vegetables to tender crisp; add meat back to skillet, then add sherry and toss with veggies (We use bok-choy, broccoli, water chestnuts, garlic, red and green bell peppers, sometimes sprouts, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage, zucchini and more. You can also use your favorite blend of frozen stir-fry blends from the grocery store.) and meat — next add sauce ingredients, Stir-fry until heated through. Serve over brown or white rice.

Imperial Chinese Chicken Kabobs

Very good. From: http://www.eatchicken.com by Patricia Schroedl Jefferson, Wis.

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 can (16 ounces) apricot halves, drained, liquid reserved

1/2 cup Hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon five spice powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 cups hot cooked rice

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

4 green onions, chopped

In small bowl, mix together reserved apricot liquid, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic, five spice powder and red pepper flakes. Remove 1/2 cup of mixture and reserve for basting. Cut each chicken thigh into half and place in plastic sealable bag. Add apricot liquid mixture and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto 8 long skewers, alternating with apricot halves. Arrange skewers on broiler pan about 5 inches from heat. Broil 8 minutes, turn and brush with reserved sauce and broil about 6 minutes more or until chicken is fork tender. In medium bowl, mix together rice, water chestnuts, red bell pepper and green onions. Remove to serving platter and arrange kabobs on top. Makes 4 servings.


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