I realized there's another interpretation of the title - your "Go-to" meal could be what you eat when you just don't feel like cooking. In that case, I would be writing about either a bowl of cereal (Raisin Bran and Cheerios being my favourites) or the perfect PB&J (cheap grocery store white bread, Kraft extra creamy peanut butter, and Welch's grape jelly, accompanied by a tall glass of cold milk).
But that would be a short post, so I'll stick with my original intention.
Those of you old enough may remember that one of the fads of the 70s was cooking with a wok. At least it was in our house, along with making your own yogurt (can you even get yogurt makers any more?). Using a wok was actually an unusual thing for us, being a very old-school, "Waspy", meat-and-potatoes family. But somehow my Mum discovered the wok, and our meals were never the same.
Over the years I became the de facto stir fry cook in our family, experimenting with different flavour combinations, sauce variations, and using different rices and noodles. At this ripe old age, I've decided it's all a matter of taste, and there really is no wrong combination. In fact, you don't even have to use a wok - a deep frying pan will do.
I try really hard to make it colourful and flavourful, but have certainly failed on both accounts from time to time (those are the nights when I should have had Raisin Bran).
If my stir fry is chicken based, I tend to make a sauce with a gingery citrusy mustardy flavour, often using combinations of these types of sauce ingredients:
If it's beef based, I will go with more of a dark, tangy sauce with a teriyaki or spicy bent to it, using some of these things:
Regardless of what the meat is, I always use these:
Spices can be anything that tempts your tastebuds - you might like a coriander-cumin type combination, or perhaps ginger-dill. Maybe cayenne with Chinese five-spice powder would be what you crave one night.
The same goes for what you use as your starch - rice isn't just rice anymore. You can use brown, basmati, jasmine, or sticky. You can use cous cous or quinoa. You can use egg noodles, rice noodles or even plain elbow macaroni - it all depends what is in your cupboard and what suits your mood.
As for a recipe? Well, I'll give it a shot below, but after 30 years I don't really measure anything! I just pour, stir, taste, and adjust. Eventually, I get something like this:
Let me know what your favourite combinations are - I would love to give it a try!
Ruth's Simple Stir Fry (Chicken & Shrimp base with Jasmine Rice)
- Start by cooking the rice, as it will take longer than cooking the entire stir fry
- Wash and prep veggies and meat so they are ready to add (I chop everything in big chunks, vs. the fancy shmancy styles in restaurants - it's faster, and more satisfying to eat)
- Heat a couple of Tb of sesame oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Add onions and garlic, sauté
- Add chicken and partially (mostly) cook, remove from pan (it will continue cooking after removed from the pan, so don't over-cook at this point)
- Add more oil if required
- Add hardest veggies (carrots, usually)
- After a few mins, add next hardest veggies, and so on
- Mushrooms and tomatoes last
- While cooking veggies, add cilantro, coriander, ginger
- Remove veggies from pan
- Create sauce - add about a cup of Orange Juice, a couple of Tbs each, of oyster sauce, honey, and Dijon mustard. Also add Worcester or soy sauce to taste.
- Add a little cornstarch (optional - depends if you want the sauce really thick)
- Taste sauce and adjust seasoning
- Add back chicken and veggies
- Add shrimp
- Heath through and stir gently til sauce thickens and meat and shrimp are cooked through
- Serve over rice
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds