Vegetarian Stir-Fry with Pineapple
Since I’ve got all this pineapple hanging around, I’ve been trying to find use for it as much as possible. I can’t in good conscience let that delicious stuff go to waste! I’ve never been a fan of anything sweet, but pineapple lends itself perfectly to savory dishes. As the world’s biggest fan of Asian Cuisine, if I had my way my days would be little more than a constant, hedonistic stuffing of the face with sushi, edamame, stir-fry, sake, sticky rice balls, and gyoza. Fortunately for my waist line I have commitments and work and responsibilities that make this dream of mine impossible. That being said, if you’re ever searching for me in the afterlife I’ll be the 400 pound white guy on a Greek-Style couch being attended to by a very skilled sushi chef.
But I digress. Hey, it’s hard not to get caught up in imagining your own personal heaven!
My favorite Thai restaurant in town serves possibly the best Pad Khe Mao in the mortal universe. It’s a spicy dish, with jumbo rice noodles, pineapple, onions, pole beans, egg, bean sprouts, basil leaves, in a delicate yet blindingly spicy super secret sauce. It is, (and I say this without hesitation) pure gastronomic bliss! And it inspired this little ditty.
Assemble the following:
- 1/2 C. Spinach (Fresh is obviously preferred, but all I had was frozen)
- 1/4 C. Mushrooms
- 1 1/2 C. Pineapple chunks
- 2 Scallion (Spring Onion) sliced on the bias
- 3 Cloves Garlic, grated or finely minced
- 1 to 1 1/2 inch of *FRESH* ginger
- 1/2 C. red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 C. Carrots, sliced on the bias
- 1 C. Tofu cubes
- Crushed Red Pepper, to taste
- Cayenne Pepper, to taste
- Your favorite Garam Masala (there are so many varieties, pinning one down is virtually impossible)
- 2 TBSP. Wok (canola/ peanut) oil
- 1 TSP. Rice Wine vinegar
- Cooked Long Grain Rice
It’s important to remember that stir fry is a lot like lighting a very short fuse on a very big stick of dynamite. Once you get started, there’s no turning back (i.e.: no time to chop that ingredient you forgot) so it is vitally important that everything be at the
ready before you even put heat to the wok. I recommend dividing things into groups based on how long it will take them to cook. But I’ve also thrown it all in at once, and the result was still delicious, though some of the veggies were still a little raw. However, I love raw vegetables. The point is to have everything ready to go before you lay a finger on the stove.
Do this with it:
- Use the most powerful burner position. Check the manual on your stove. Even my cheap, General Electric piece of junk stove has one burner that puts out about 500 BTU’s more than the other three.
- Heat the wok until you fear that it’s going to melt. Trust me, it will not. Woks have been used like this for a few thousand years.
- Add the oil. It should immediately spread out and get all shimmery and glossy. It should start to smoke a little bit within a few seconds. If this doesn’t happen, you have misjudged all sorts of ancient Asian wisdom and should apologize to our forbearers and start over.
- At sight of the first whisps of smoke, it’s time to get started.
- Pick up the wok and toss in the ingredients. (If you’re scared of getting burned by splatter, it’s a sign you should spend more time in the kitchen and toughen up, you wuss!) If you grouped things by cooking time, expect three to five minutes cooking time per group. The important thing is to hear that sizzle every time you add something new. If no sizzle is heard, the wok didn’t get back up to temperature. But do not despair; just cook everything a little longer.
- Keep tossing things around in the wok, either by delicate flick of the wrist or by stirring with a spatula, until a nice earthy brown look to the edges of everything can be seen.
- Add the Rice Wine Vinegar and toss some more, return the Wok to the heat for a minute or two.
- After the vinegar has cooked down, kill the heat and immediately add the Crushed red and cayenne peppers, and the Garam Masala.
- Toss a little more, then plate with the rice and serve.
Important wisdom from Julia Child [sic] : Go out into the yard with some beans or rice grains or something, put them in a pan and keep tossing them all over the place until they all land back in the pan! Then you’ve got it, and you can say goodbye to that stirring spoon or spatula!