Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Let's Talk Food: A Southern Spin on Chinese Stir Fry

I know the internet doesn't know this about me, but let me just announce to the world that I am a terrible cook.  I mean, at my wedding one of my best friends roasted that I couldn't brown ground beef when she met me.  That is true.  But look at me now -- I am whipping up ground beef with an Asian flair all thanks to years of patient roommates and marrying into a family of wonderfully talented Taiwanese chefs.

If you are wanting to add more Taiwanese or Chinese flavors into your dinner plans, stir fry is by far the easiest way to start.  You can use your own favorite meats and vegetables, and even go quite American on the sauces if you don't want to make a trip to an Asian supermarket.  Plus it is all "one pot" cooking, which means less work for you washing dishes later.

You know it is ready when the broccoli is a bright and vibrant green
Southern Spin on Chinese Stir Fry


1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 broccoli crown
2-3 whole carrots, sliced or shredded
Soy Sauce
Olive Oil
Chili Soy Paste


Start by browning your beef or turkey. Set your pan to medium high heat and add about 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Let the oil warm before adding your meat to reduce burning.

Add vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and chili soy paste to taste.  I use about a teaspoon of pepper for one pot, and about 2 tablespoons of the liquid ingredients.

Once the meat begins to brown, add your chopped onion.  Stir with a spatula or chop sticks as needed to prevent burning.

When the onion begins to start "clearing" in color, then add your remaining vegetables.  When the broccoli is a bright green color, and the meat is thoroughly cooked, then remove from heat. Typically 8-10 minutes of stove top time is all that is required on medium high heat.

Chili Soy Paste is your best friend via

Using ground beef or turkey isn't really very Chinese (my in laws typically cook more with pork), but this is my more American spin on stir fry to make it a friendly first-timer's recipe.  I have found I really love the flavor of ground turkey with this dish even more than the ground beef. You can substitute or add any of your favorite vegetables -- I have added sliced grape tomatoes, green and red peppers, and sliced mushrooms to this mix with great results.  The only difficult ingredient to come by at your regular grocery store is the chili soy paste, but it is incredibly good if you can get it.  It has a nice spicy flavor that can really add punch to the dish and overcome the pure salty taste of the soy sauce.  A balsamic vinagrette is good in a bind as a substitute, but if you swing for the chili soy paste you absolutely won't regret it.  A bottle is about $3 at your local Asian supermarket.

You can serve this dish by itself, or over a nice bed of rice if you are hungrier.  Speaking of rice, once you switch over to the amazingness that is using a rice cooker, you will never, ever go back.  Stay tuned for my next cooking post if you want to learn more about why every good Southerner should have a rice cooker at home.

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