I am an absolute lover of Valentine’s Day and of my valentine. Many years ago my husband surprised me with an amazing tennis bracelet for the occasion and it solidified Valentine’s Day as one of my favorite dates on the calendar. However, gifts do not have to cost a fortune to be thoughtful ad cherished. Gifts big or small can be really special. People that seemingly have everything will cherish a Valentine’s Day gift from the heart.
One very special Valentine’s Day gift is the gift of food. This year instead of going out to dinner with my Valentine, I have decided to make my family a very special Asian meal. I recently took an amazing cooking class with Suzanne Yealey of What’s for Dinner?. Although I had to leave early to tend to a sick kid (ah the life of a mom), I learned so many tips from Suzanne. Let’s me share a few of them with you.
We made a stir fry dish. The first thing she did was cut the chicken into chunks and then drudge them in cornstarch (In my experience, you can also substitute flour). She browned the chicken in canola oil and then added a little sesame oil for flavor (trying not to use too much of the sesame oil since it can be expensive). This trick seals in the juices and makes your chicken so much more flavorful. Honestly, you will not believe the difference this will make in your chicken dishes.
Tip 1: Just by drudging your chicken in cornstarch before you sauté or stir- fry it, your entire meal will be transformed.
Tip 2: What wok do I buy?
This year I plan to buy this wok and the pressure cooker under the rice section for my husband along with the meal he will enjoy that is cooked in it (stir fry recipe below).
Suzanne helped guide me in my wok buying quest. My husband will be very happy to know she steered me to an inexpensive version. Click on the wok below to see the details. The non-stick versions allow you to use less oil in your dish.
Tip 3: Make sure the wok is super hot before throwing anything (other than oil) in.
**Use an oil that can handle the heat. Canola, Vegetable and Grape Seed oils work well.
Tip 4: Do not use metal utensils in the wok.
It will scratch your wok and bits of the wok finish in your food- yuck!
So how do you make a delish stir fry?
Here’s a favorite recipe of mine:
1.Take chicken and cut it into strips.
2. Drudge in flour.
3. Heat canola oil with a hint of sesame oil in wok.
4. When wok is VERY hot, throw in chicken and cook until brown.
5. Remove Chicken from wok and put aside.
6. Cut up your vegetables. I prefer to use broccoli, red peppers, onions and garlic.
7. Heat canola oil in wok (with a tiny bit of sesame oil for flavor).
8. When the wok is again VERY hot, add in garlic and onions. Seconds later, add the broccoli, then the peppers.
9. When the broccoli seams soft (and the peppers are cooked) remove the vegetables from the wok.
10. Throw the sauce into the wok- the sauce can be something easy like “soy vey” or a more complex mixture of the following: soy sauce or tamari, dry sherry (try Fino its great), sugar or honey, rice vinegar, canola or grape seed oil, sesame oil and hoisin sauce. I like to play with the ratios to find that perfect thickness for my family.
The final step: the rice.
There are ways to make rice as perfect without a pressure cooker but using a pressure cooker ensures perfect rice every time. This past weekend my dear friend made me the most amazing split pea soup in 20 minutes using her pressure cooker (the one below). Be on the look out for that healthy and nutritious meal that your whole family will love later this week.
Put in decorative Valentine’s Day plates or decorate the table with your favorite red/ heart decorations.
Finally, end the night with a sweet chocolate fondue, a handmade fortune cookie or ice cream sundae’s.
Happy Valentines Day.
Enjoy the recipe and the gift idea- Sincerely, Lisa
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