Sweet-Sour Stir-Fry with Walnuts

Sweet-Sour Stir-Fry with Walnuts

This delicious take on stir-fry is a great idea for a weeknight family meal.

Ingredients

The Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 good-sized cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

The Stir-Fry:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large (1 1/2-inch) squares
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal (1/4-inch thick)
  • 1/2 a medium head cauliflower, in 1-inch florets (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 a medium head broccoli, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • About 15 mushrooms—stems trimmed, wiped clean, and quartered
  • 1 pound very firm tofu, cut into 3/4 -inch cubes
  • 2 small zucchini (one yellow, one green), chopped or diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 ½ cups lightly toasted walnut pieces
  • Green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Orange zest, for garnish

Directions

Stir-fry is all about very high heat and cooking things quickly in a specific order so that it all ends up at just the right degree of doneness at the same time. First, have all of your ingredients prepped and close at hand. Second, read the recipe carefully and really get it in your head before you start. The idea is that once you start cooking, it’s continuous—you should never have to stop to search for something or read about what to do next. Once the cutting is done, the actual cooking time is just a matter of minutes.

A nice, large wok and a metal wok spatula (the kind that looks like shovel) are best for stir-frying, but a large skillet and a serving spoon will work well, too. You can substitute cooked chicken breast, cut into thin strips for the tofu if you wish. Start some rice before you begin, so it’s ready at the same time as the stir-fry.

Here's the step-by-step:

  1. Combine all the glaze ingredients (except the cornstarch) in a liquid measuring cup with a spout, and whisk until blended. Place the cornstarch in a small bowl, and drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the glaze, whisking constantly until the cornstarch is dissolved. (The mixture will be cloudy.) Pour this solution back into the measuring cup, whisking it in. Set aside, leaving the whisk in the cup.
  2. Have all the vegetables and the tofu cut and in bowls or containers near the stove. Place a wok or large, deep skillet over medium heat and wait about a minute. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the oil, and swirl to coat the pan (or just push the oil around with a wok spatula or serving spoon). Turn the heat to high, add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the other tablespoon of oil, plus the carrot, cauliflower, and broccoli—and another 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Keep the heat high and the vegetables moving, and stir-fry for approximately 2 minutes, or until the broccoli turns bright green and shiny.
  3. Add the mushrooms and tofu or chicken– and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Keep the heat high, and continue to stir-fry for another minute, mixing all the vegetables up from the bottom of the pan. Add the zucchini and bell pepper, and cook one more minute.
  4. Whisk the glaze to reincorporate the cornstarch (it will have settled to the bottom) then quickly pour the whole cupful into the wok or skillet. Cook and stir for just about a minute more, adding in the walnuts at the very last second.. The glaze will coat everything and thicken a little. Serve immediately, over rice.

Possible other touches:

  • Throw in a handful of snow peas or sugar snap peas along with the bell pepper
  • Add up to 1/2 cup fresh or drained canned pineapple chunks along with the bell pepper
  • Add up to 1 tablespoon grated orange zest to the glaze (zest the orange before juicing it)
  • Pass soy sauce, chili oil, and toasted sesame oil at the table