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 V.17 No.31 | July 31 - August 6, 2008 

Ask Chef Boy Ari


Q: When I make stir-fry, it always seems kind of boring, even though there is no shortage of veggies to use. Can you recommend a good seasonal stir-fry recipe and tell me how to make it taste authentic? I’m getting frustrated.

—Fry Baby

A: I hear ya, Fry Baby. I’ve sampled plenty of stir-fries that are too busy for their own good, as if the very word “stir-fry” is an invitation to clean out whatever’s in your veggie drawer—just toss in everything, including the kitchen sink, add soy sauce and serve with rice.

But a good stir-fry, like any good seasonal dish, should not only include what’s fresh, but also place those items on a pedestal. A bunch of chopped veggies haphazardly thrown together will not do this.

Here’s a variation on the classic beef with broccoli and oyster sauce.

First, there are a lot of different oyster sauces out there. If I can help it, I avoid the cheap stuff, as the difference in price per meal is minimal, and the difference in quality can be big.

Start with chopped bacon or oil in a pan and whole cloves of fresh, new garlic. New garlic is special stuff, extra-fiery when raw, but it’ll quickly mellow and sweeten when cooked. Cook on low heat until the garlic turns translucent, and then add some red meat, cut into small pieces, and raise the heat. While the meat browns, add rounds from the broccoli stem, which take longer to cook. When the meat is browned add the broccoli florets. As soon as they start to cook, stir in some oyster sauce, some chopped, fresh garlic and a pour of Sherry or Mirin. Put a lid on the pan and let it all steam for a moment. Serve when the broccoli is neon-green.

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