X.B. Shen | Oct 01, 2015
This article is prepared by X.B. Shen of Long Road Ecological Farm and is a part of its “Farm Sum” series. www.facebook.com/farmsum.
We invite friends over to our farm from time to time and usually we make a Chinese peasant-style meal with abundant vegetables from our garden. Impressed by how delicious the food is, our friends may still not dare to make their own, even though I tell them stir-frying is really simple. I hope this article will uncover the myths of Chinese peasant-style stir-fry; it turns out there is no mystery at all – no complex sauces or hard-to-master technique.
Chinese peasant-style stir-fry requires very little preparation and few ingredients. Besides what's available in the garden, you only need a bit of oil, salt, and water (yes, water). Garlic, green onion, soy sauce are a plus, but not necessary. Each vegetable has its own pleasant flavour, and Chinese peasants like to preserve this flavour by not using too much or too strong spices and seasonings.
Here is a recipe for a delicious stir-fry potato dish:
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or any vegetable oil)
- 2 large chieftain potatoes (red skin, crunchy), sliced to sticks, like french fries, thickness varies, the thinner the better and less cooking time. Keep skin if organically-grown
- 1 bell pepper, or two hot peppers, seeds removed, cut to sticks
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1/3 teaspoon of salt or less
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of soya sauce
1. Heat the frying pan, add oil and garlic, stir a few seconds, and then add peppers, stir the pepper and cook for about half a minute
2. Add potatoes. Stir and add salt, and a few tablespoons of water to avoid burning at the bottom.
3. Cover with lid and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add a bit more water if it drys up.
4. Add green onion and soya sauce, and give it a good mixing before putting it in a plate or large bowl.
Eat with rice or as a replacement for salad/mashed potato in a steak meal. The key to this dish is that you want to keep the crunchiness of the potato by not overcooking it.
A variation of this dish is to add a bit of chopped pork. You will need to prepare the pork first. Chop the pork into small pieces, fry it with cooking oil and thinly-sliced ginger. Once the colour of the pork changes, add salt, continue to stir for a minute or two, and then remove from pan and put in a lidded container.
We usually prepare one pound of pork every time. When we make a vegetable dish, we add some of the pre-cooked pork when the vegetable is about half done. One pound of pork can last for a few days. You
will appreciate the pork from a good source. When pork is good, it is juicy and flavourful even if you don't add any sauce. Bad pork is dry and flavourless, and loses water when being stir-fried.
You can apply the same method to cooking fresh beans, zucchini, summer squash, celery, daikon radish, the stems of greens (such as bok choy, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, etc). The cooking time varies with different vegetables.