Taking the full measure of life

Tasty Soy-Free Veggie Stirfry

January 29th, 2008 · 17 Comments

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I love a good stirfry, but it took me many years to learn how to make one correctly. Growing up, I would make stirfries from frozen, pre-made stir-fry packs. Basically, I would boil the vegetables and possibly some meat in soy sauce and their own juices and then serve them over watery minute rice. I thought those ‘stirfries’ were really tasty, but that’s probably a testament to my tastebuds at the time and the amount of salty soy sauce and sweet teriyaki sauce I would pour all over them.

When I got a wok as a wedding gift, out of curiosity about the shape of the pan, I finally looked up how to make real stirfries. The point of the shape, basically, is that—on high heat, using little oil—you first put in the things that need to cook the longest, and as they cook, you push them up the edges of the pan and fill the empty space in the middle with whatever ingredient you have that will take the next longest amount of time to cook. And so on. The foods that are pushed up the sides of the pan will continue to cook, but not as rapidly as the item in the middle of the pan. Thus, eventually, all your foods will be done simultaneously without any being overcooked.

So I had that down, but then I had to learn that if I was going to stir-fry correctly, mise en place was an important element. Fortunately, it only took me one more try to learn that lesson; I was still l chopping the mushrooms when they (and two other unprepared ingredients after them) should have been in the wok four minutes earlier. In that attempt, my first ingredients to go in were overcooked by the time the meal was ready. Well, lesson learned: now I peel/chop up/prepare all my ingredients—even sauce elements—in advance and put them in ramekins and bowls before I ever fire up the oil in my wok. If you didn’t know to do that with a stirfry, I hope I have just saved you a bit of frustration.

Stirfries are great weeknight meals because they are pretty quick to pull together, they typically don’t require a huge number of ingredients, and they are generally healthy. I was inspired by a recipe at Bitchin’ Vegan Kitchen to make my own, soy-free variation of the tasty-sounding pineapple/fried rice/sorta Thai stirfry she offered up.

Soy-Free & Gluten-Free Sorta Thai Pineapple, Cashew, & Veggie Fried Rice

2-3 tablespoons of high-heat safflower oil (or peanut oil)
1 T of dark sesame oil (You should try this if you never have. A little goes a long way in offering a rich flavor to Asian meals.)
2 cloves garlic, minced fine (I used my garlic press)
~2 tsp. raw ginger, minced fine
1 large carrot, grated on a wide grate
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
~1 c. snow peas
~1/2 c. broccoli florets, thinly sliced
3-4 scallions, green and white parts, chopped thinly
2-3 cups leftover cold or room temp. rice (I cooked 1 c. of brown basmati in veggie broth earlier in the day and let it cool)
~2 tsp. fish sauce (check the ingredients before purchasing)
~1 tsp.-2 T. Sriracha hot sauce*, to taste (2 tsp. in a recipe is plenty for me, but put 1-2 T. if you like things spicy)
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. salt (or start with half as much and add more at the end, if desired)
1/2 fresh pineapple, chopped into small pieces
Large handful of cashews (roasted or raw,) crushed lightly
2 T. fresh cilantro, sliced into bits

Prep the ingredients. Combine the fish sauce, Sriracha, and molasses in a small container, and stir well.
Turn the wok on to medium heat. When the pan is hot, pour the cashews in the bottom of the dry wok. Shake the pan every minute until the cashews begin to brown. Pour the cashews into a small bowl, and set aside.
Heat the oils on medium-high in the wok.
Add garlic and ginger. Stir for thirty seconds.
Add the carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, snow peas, and green onions, and cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Scrape the vegetables up to the sides of the pan.
In the hole you have in the middle (the ‘well’), add the rice, and pour on the Sriracha mix. Scrape the vegetables further up the edges of the pan so that you can spread the rice out. Let it toast for ~2 minutes. Scrape the rice up the sides of the pan to create a new well in the center of the pan.
Drop the pineapple pieces onto the well. Cook them for 2-3 minutes to allow them to caramelize slightly, then toss them together with the other ingredients.
Add the cashews and cilantro. Stir well to toss all of the ingredients together. Taste to check seasonings, adding more as desired.
Serve immediately.

A general note: If you have other veggies or fruits to add, try them out! This recipe is ripe for experimentation.

*A note on Sriracha: it is spicy. My husband added probably a tablespoon of it to his serving alone—and ate it with a grin. That amount would make my eyes bulge out of my head. However, Sriracha does add a unique sweet and peppery flavor to this dish (and many other dishes), so even if you are a spice wimp like me, I recommend that you try out using a little of it.

Due to the undeniably healthy, high-antioxidant nature of this meal, I am submitting it for inclusion of the SweetNicks Antioxidant Rich Foods/5-A-Day round-up.


Tags: 2/3 veggies · allergen-free recipes · quick meals

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lizzie // Jan 29, 2008 at 11:56 am

    YUM! I try to avoid soy, so hearing about this recipe made my day! Dark sesame oil — I’ll definately look for it next time I’m at the store.

    Thanks, Sally!

    The pizza recipe prior to this post looks amazing too.

  • 2 Sara // Jan 29, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Oh, man. I shouldn’t have come here before lunch. If I wasn’t starving before…gosh this sounds soooooo good.

    As for CFA, that’s Chick-fil-a, not sure if you knew that. We tend to abbreviate all food places in our house. Don’t know why, I guess it’s our family tradition. At any rate, like McD’s, the fries and they fruit are GF. I believe the regular (ie unbreaded) chx is as well. We haven’t had the occasion to try it yet as our son in our only Celiac and he is happy with fries, fruit, and choco milk for now.

    OK, gotta go eat now. Wish I was eating this. 🙂

  • 3 HotThickChick // Jan 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I’m not the cook in my house, but your photos ALWAYS make me wish I was!

  • 4 Lindsay // Jan 29, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Oh wow! That stirfry looks FANTASTIC! Lol I learned something new… i didn’t know that you were supposed to push the slower cooking ingredients up the side! I’m definately going to be trying this out (lol maybe substituting the tofu for some chicken though).

    Thanks for the advice… I know slow and steady is a good thing, and truthfully I do not deserve to pull of big numbers on the scale as I haven’t been putting my all into it.

  • 5 Helen // Jan 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Sally! I know to cook the things that need longer cooking first, but this is the first time someone has explained the shape of a wok and how to make that happen to me!! Thank you!! Can’t wait to get home and try… 😉

  • 6 Lori W. // Jan 30, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Oh my goodness, this looks so delicious. Yum!!

  • 7 Nikki // Jan 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

    This sounds amazing! You’re right on the Sriracha. I keep it around to use in recipes, but my husband usually dumps more on or adds it to chili (or whatever) because after I lost my gallbladder, I can’t handle as much spice.

    Do you think omitting the molasses would make this recipe suffer? I only ask because I don’t have molasses, and don’t think i’ve ever cooked with it.

    Nikki–Cooking/baking with a bit of molasses is awesome, because it adds a unique rich, sweet flavor in small doses. However, if you don’t want to use molasses but can use soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce (some kinds have wheat), or hoisin sauce, you could try adding one of those instead. If you don’t want to use those, you could also try adding a bit of dark brown sugar, which has some molasses in it.–SPA

  • 8 Ginny // Jan 30, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Hey, you’ve just given me an idea for dinner! Stir Fry Thanks. Also, catching up with you, we LOVE friday night movie night at our house it is the perfect way to start the weekend you can even check movies out from the library. We throw a table cloth down and eat at the coffee table.

    Ginny–The library! Of course. We haven’t yet exhausted our supply of friend-lent movies, but then the library is a natural option. Thanks for the suggestion, Ginny.–SPA

  • 9 Seamaiden // Feb 3, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Looks very yummy! I love srirachi sauce, and the great thing is you can add it to taste. I add 1tsp or two and DH is much more reticent with it (he is sensitive to spiciness). This reminds me, actually, did you see my soy-free brown fried rice recipe? I thought you might enjoy it..




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  • 11 Sara // Mar 30, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    OK, I’m going to try this on Saturday…sans the cilantro. I don’t know why but it sets my teeth on edge. Even the smallest bite is like biting into foil. I’m weird, though. Obviously. 😉

    Glad you’re feeling better, btw. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Like you said, we are all works in progress and you are progressing fine. 🙂

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  • 15 TooManyHats // Jan 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Since you are gluten and soy free, what brand of fish sauce do you use. Asian ingredients are the hardest for me to find since having to be gluten and soy free.

  • 16 J'Marinde Shephard // Apr 2, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Thai Kitchens Brand is the Fish Sauce I use, and I am allergic to soy, dairy and gluten. This is usually available in the Asian ethnic section of the grocery. Hope ths helps. (I am working on my own allergen free blog and will post address when I have enough content to warrant it. )

  • 17 Amanda // Dec 11, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve been soy-free for a few years now, due to intolerance, and I miss stir-fry so much! It was always one of my favorites, and I love pineapple too… bonus!

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