Monday Stirfry

Usually when the weekend is over, my stomach is not in great shape from eating out, and my spirits are down at the thought of another long week.  I crave something easy, healthy and delicious to ease the pain of Mondays.  I need a meal that I can eat tucked away on the couch while watching crappy British television.  The answer lies in the stirfry.  It's delicious and versatile, takes under 30 mins and requires virtually no planning.  Stirfry has become such a staple in our flat that come Monday it is not even discussed what we are eating.  So now an homage to what it probably my favorite weeknight meal.

To make the stirfry we need a couple of food categories:

1.  The vegetable!  Any combination is good but keep it to 3-4.  More is allowed if you really need to use that one item sitting in the fridge about to go bad  (I understand the need to not waste).  A nice combination of texture is important to stirfry, as is ability to soak up flavor, hence why I love broccoli so much.
-onion (white is fine, green spring onions are better)
-bell peppers
-mushrooms, in particular shitake
-baby corn
-green beans
-water chestnuts...yum
-bean sprouts
-anything else? be creative!

2. The sauce!  Lately we have been on a oyster sauce/chili bean sauce kick.
-oyster sauce
-chili bean sauce (this is the sauce used to make mapo tofu)
-sweet chili sauce
-corn starch
-soy sauce
-stock (chicken, beef or veg)

3. The seasonings!
-minced garlic
-minced ginger
-chinese five spice blend
-soy sauce
-sesame oil
-siracha hot sauce, if you are also an addict

4. The protein!  I put this last because I don't always use protein.  While I do prefer to include it, sometimes it's just not on hand.  Other times, I happened to eat a pound of meat over the weekend and really really don't need it.

Preparation: If using meat, dice it up and marinate in some soy sauce, sesame oil, chinese five spice, and generous spoon of corn starch.  I usually do this as soon as I get home from work and it marinates for 30-45 mins.  It's important to make sure the vegetables are cut with a moderate degree of consistency.  So do all of that chopping before starting to cook.  Also chop up the garlic and ginger.  I think there's some confusion about ginger... for a stirfry for 2 people, I use about half a thumb of ginger, peeled and minced finely.  I keep ginger in the frige uncovered, it usually lasts 2-3 weeks.  Before re-using I cut off and toss a small slice so I get to to the fresh part.

Onwards to cooking.  Heat up about 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok.  When it gets very hot, add the marinated meat and cook for just a few minutes, not until completely done but nearly there.  Then remove and set aside to add later.

Add about another tbsp of oil and start the veggies.  Start with garlic, ginger and onions.  Then add the rest in the order of how long the vegetables takes the cook (this is where my terrible recipe writing skills really fail).  Soon the vegetables will start to dry out, and this is when I add some stock.  Add a little stock at a time, so that the vegetables are still frying and not boiling.  When the vegetables look nearly there, add the sauce and the chicken back in.

Sauce directions:  In a cup, use about 2tsps of corn starch and mix with a little cold water until smooth. Then add in your sauces of choice (oyster sauce, sweet chili sauce, bean sauce, etc).  Stir that all up and it will be the addictive glue that holds the entire thing together.

Cook another few minutes and finally touch it up with a drizzle of sesame oil and a handful of chopped coriander.  If you don't like coriander...then....I don't really know what to say.  Also, if you are using green spring onions, add those in towards at the end as a garnish because they don't take much time to took at all.  And if really in the mood for a treat, if I had a particularly bad Monday, cashew nuts are are a fantastic addition.

And voila.  My perfect Monday meal.  Oh, and jasmine rice is essential.

In the interest of not causing confusion, the two pictures in this blog are obviously not the same stirfry.  It's also clear that I don't own a wok :( 


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