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Cabbage Stir Fry
(Be sure to make it all the way to the bottom to find a surprise twist on this delicious dish!)
This is a very simple stir fry which is absolutely delicious. It is wonderful as a side dish or as a main dish, either over rice or tucked inside a tortilla. Let your imagination run wild with whatever you have in the fridge - do not be constrained by what was in my refigerator when I decided to prepare this for dinner. If you are in a real hurry, frozen peppers, onions, carrots and mushrooms work just fine. You can also add any type of sauce that you and your family like. I used a simple low sodium soy sauce on this particular night. The important thing is to make this recipe your own.
nnThe basic ingredients are just what you see here. I try to arrange my ingredients to make a wonderful rainbow of colors and tastes. If there is something on this list that you don't like, replace it with another vegetable.
I normally start with the carrots since they seem to take the longest to cook. A quick peel, a slice down the middle and off to the races with dicing them. I always use my big kitchen knife to chop and dice and dice. My kids don't like cooked carrots very much so I try to chop them pretty fine. In this dish, the carrots are fairly overwhelmed with other vegetables so my kids don't notice them that much. Once done dicing the carrots, go ahead and add them directly to the wok or big stir fry pan.
Now for the two or more cloves of garlic. I buy peeled garlic from our local produce market - but if you don't - did you know you don't have to peel them before you press them? Just place an unpeeled garlic clove - no not the whole bulb - in the garlic press and the garlic should squeeze right out through the skin and the press. You want to make sure to have a nice "fat handled" garlic press. I used to have a press with "skinny handles" and it hurt really bad while applying the needed pressure to fully mince the garlic.
The onion comes next and you can use however much or little you want. If it is a sweet onion, you may want to use more than what I show here. Sweet onions do not have as much of the cancer fighting falvor compound called quercitin. All onions have more antioxidants than meats, but if you are really concerned about maximimum cancer protection, pick up the strongest tasting onions you can.
As you can see, I like to water saute my vegetables, rather than use oil. Partly because I don't like the extra calories of the oil and partly because over-heating oil can cause the oil to take on an unpleasant taste. Just add enough water to cover the vegetables and keep a cup of water nearby in case you need to add more as you go along. Since we are trying to soften the carrots and onions, go ahead and place a lid on your pan if you have one.
Peppers are next on the ingredient list and feel free to use whatever color you have on hand. I like to use a combination of several different colors - must be the artist in me. When I dice up a pepper, I slice the pepper in half, use my thumb to remove the seed pods from both sides, rinse the pepper and then slice it from the inside out. The inner flesh of the pepper is easier to penetrate with a knife blade than the outer skin. This way, my knife doesn't slip off the pepper and I don't end up with a nice cut.
Once the carrots and onions have cooked for about 5 minutes, and the peppers are diced, go ahead and add the peppers. My, the colors are already so pretty!
While the peppers, carrots and onions are continuing to soften, slice the mushrooms. My favorite mushrooms are cremini mushrooms, also sometimes called baby portabellos. These mushrooms just seem to have more taste than the white ones. Oftentimes, people tell you to wipe each mushroom rather than wash them under running cold water. Well, if I had all the time in the world, or was not going to use the mushrooms right away, then I might wipe each one. But for this dish, washing them under running cold water works just fine. I also don't always trim off the end of the mushroom. If they look pretty clean and fresh, I just start slicing. Be sure to make the slices thick enough. If you cut the mushrooms too thin, they will "disappear" in the dish as you cook them.
When the mushrooms are sliced, add them to the pan. By this time, my little bit of water had evaporated and I decided to add some more. Just add the water gradually so you don't end up with soup. If the pan goes a little dry, it will just carmelize the vegetables a little. (Unless you get distracted by the kids and walk away for 10 or 15 minutes!)
What dish would be complete without some purple cabbage and who can resist its beautiful color? God certainly knew what he was doing when he replicated the rainbow in our fruits and vegetables! For this dish, I only used half of a head of cabbage. If I had a bigger pan, I would have added more. To prepare the cabbage, simply remove the core with a sharp knife. Then flip the cabbage over, flat side down, and begin slicing and the cross-cutting. Nothing works as well as a nice sharp butcher's knife. Given enough practice, fully chopping a head of cabbage should take less than 2 minutes. I used to always pull out my box grater and hand grate the cabbage. After many skinned knuckles, I learned how to quite easily chop a head of cabbage. So much for my box grater!
Add the cabbage, stir well and replace the pan cover. The mushrooms and the cabbage should give off some of their liquid and you will not need to add any more water.
As the vegetables become tender it is now time to add some spices. I like to add some diced sea vegetables to most of my vegetable and bean dishes. This might seem a little strange at first, but there are lots of reasons for doing this. Sea vegetables are an incredibly good source of iodine, a mineral that most Americans are deficient in and sea vegetables are an excellent source of. (Iodine deficiency even in small levels can cause loss of IQ, alzheimer's, thyroid problems, fibrocystic breast disease and possibly breast cancer.) Sea vegetables add a very subtle flavor that everyone in my family loves. So much healthier for you than salt. I chose to purchase flakes because they were much cheaper than sheets of sea vegetables. (Just be careful not to use too many of them in your pressure cooker or you may clog your pressure valve.)
After adding the sea vegetables, I like to add a little soy sauce. You can use a little stir-fry sauce of your choice at this point. Remember, it's about making this beautiful, tasty dish work well for your family. Stir the sea vegetables and soy sauce in thoroughly and heat well.
WOW! The dish is done and is so full of healthy and delicious vegetables that we can't wait to dig in. My son likes to add a little Yoshida sauce at the table, while my daughter prefers the more subtle taste of soy sauce.
BUT WAIT! You thought you were done, but there's a surprise below.
In rememberance of eating MuShu at out local Chinese restaurant, we occassionally like to wrap this inside a whole wheat tortilla to make the meal even more filling. All you need is a little sauce to line your tortilla. My personal favorite is plum sauce, but Yoshida or hoison sauce work well too.
Using the plum sauce, simply lay down a line of sauce in the middle of the tortilla.
Add a nice bit of stir-fry cabbage and roll up the tortilla to form a Chinese burrito!
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"Wisdom From the Kitchen" | Veg4Health.com Melbourne Florida