I’ve been eating stir fries all the time recently, because in the heatwave you want to minimise the time spent over the hob. Salads aside, what’s quicker than a stir fry?
Chopping the vegetables and marinating the meat, fish or tofu is not hot work and it usually takes all of ten to fifteen minutes, unless you’re cooking for a crowd. So that’s a very time efficient dinner solution, but is it also healthy? And how does it work for weight loss?
Both questions can be answered ‘yes’ with a couple of caveats. First, go easy on the fillers. Double up the amount of vegetables, add some high-protein ones like mushrooms, and skip the rice; or cook it just for those family members who don’t need to watch their diets. You won’t go hungry: sprinkle the stir fry with chopped, toasted peanuts or cashews to keep you fuller: nuts are very energy-dense.
Instead of pouring in sauce from the package which will contain much more sugar than you’d think, make your own sauce mixes. Once you’ve mastered one or two recipes for seasoning stir fries, you can vary the protein element, the vegetables and thus have a different dish every time.
The seasoning can be done by marinating the meat/fish/tofu, which will then lend the flavour to the rest of the ingredients, or by mixing a sauce added to the wok at the end of cooking. Obviously, one way is as good as the other (and if it isn’t I wouldn’t know!) so browse the recipes below and pick your favourites.
What about noodles then? You can’t very well omit noodles from a ramen or a chow mein. Choose rice noodles for those dishes, their calorie content is 30% lower than egg noodles. And halve the portion: if you use the portioned dried nests or wok-ready sachets, one portion for two people is enough, if vegetables are plentiful in the stir fry.
And finally are stir fries healthy? They certainly are if you follow the advice above: avoid carb-heavy fillers and prepare your sauces from scratch. Think how little oil goes into an average wok for frying, and how quickly the vegetables are cooked. That’s much better than boiling them with lots of salt.
And now for the recipes. My favourite pork stir fry is sticky pork. For beef, go with sizzling beef. Chicken yu xiang, with aubergine or kung pao, with peanuts are both excellent as is sweet and sour duck – just skip the crispy skin if on a diet.
Can fish be used in stir fries? Absolutely, Thai fish stir fry uses any firm white fish. There’s lemony stir-fried salmon, scallops and asparagus and five spice prawns (but watch the noodles!).
And of course, in a true takeaway fashion you can replace the main ingredient with another in each of these recipes, as well as you can swap out the meat for firm tofu.
Hope that gives you some (stir-fried) food for thought! If we’re talking about weight loss dessert should not be mentioned, but could anyone resist a very small piece of matcha sponge with lemon scented cream? They couldn’t!
Stay safe and have a great week.