I can't resist a good pun. You probably already know that. #sorrynotsorry
I also happen to love Miso, that fermented soybean Japanese paste that's full of umami rich flavour. I'm sure you're already familiar with basic Miso soup and don't really need an intro to it, but did you know that you can use it in so many other ways too?
Ok- so maybe you did. (Yay- extra culinary points for you!)
Or, maybe you didn't. (Don't worry, no marks are deducted, and you have a delicious new ingredient to learn about)
Miso is a paste made from cooked, fermented soybeans often mixed with other grains such as barley or rice. It's rich in umami savoury notes and is pretty nutritious being high in protein, iron and other minerals.
A general rule as to how rich or savoury it is is indicated by the colour. The longer the ferment, the darker (redder) it is, and the more concentrated & salty the flavour. Paler, yellow (often called white miso) are fermented for less time and have a slightly sweeter flavour, and hence are used more for general cooking. I try to buy the white miso mostly, but don't fret if you have the more concentrated red miso, just use a bit less of it.
Another reason I love miso is that it lasts for aaaaages. A big square pot bought at a Japanese or Asian food store is pretty much enough miso for 6 months or so (at least it does for me.. , you might have more of a miso addiction than I do) and as it's a fermented product, never seems to go off. It might dehydrate a little or become a bit more concentrated, but it's still pretty tasty and won't hurt you.
Miso soup is the classic we all love, but it's also super versatile in other things. I've used it to sauce up baked Cauliflower (recipe here..) as a secret ingredient to add in loads of rich flavour to a risotto (see this recipe) and most recently I've started using it along with ginger, chilli and garlic as a stir fry sauce, which is absolutely freekin' delicious. We liked this so much we've eaten it 3 times in the past two weeks.
I honestly don't know why this didn't occur to me before.
I mean it's pretty logical. Maybe I was too pre-occupied trying out other more complicated recipes. I don't know.
The thing is, stir fry's are dead easy to make, we all know that. Right? You just need to do all your chopping, heat a wok and add sauce. Then serve over rice or noodles or whatever. The key to GREAT stir fry is the prep.. trust me on this.
How to make the BEST Stir Fry.
To make a good stir fry, you need to have everything prepped. Chop all your veggies into similar sizes, this helps them all cook at the same time. I like long stick shapes for the best crunch to cook ratio. Mix up your sauce.. then heat your wok as high as it will go. You want scorchio hot. Dump all the veggies in and let them catch a bit before adding the oil. This creates a nice smokey edge to the flavour. Stir and fry for a few minutes, then add the sauce. I sometimes stick a lid on for a minute or so to give the veggies an extra bit of steaming.
Add a crunchy, nutty topping:
Adding in extra crunch by the way of nuts and seeds to sprinkle over to serve:
a) is super tasty
b) gives you more micro nutrients & protein
Use whatever you have to hand, but may I suggest a combo of cashew nuts, sesame seeds and either sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. These all are tasty as.. and have all kinds of extra goodness in them. Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, vitamin B1, and selenium for example, whilst pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, iron, maganese and phosphorus.
I pre-make my nutty crunchy topping by first of all popping some raw cashews into an unoiled wok or pan and toasting until they get a bit of a char on.. then I add the sesame and sunflower/pumpkin seeds. Add a little soy sauce and toast until they are all lightly browned and the pumpkin seeds start popping. Make loads, because you'll want to pop these in your mouth as soon as you've made them and they keep well in a jar or container, ready for sprinkling on other stir frys or into salads. Also brilliant for snacking on when you need a little savoury something during the day.
For the Stir Fry Veggies
- You want around 2 cups of mixed stir-fryable veggies- below is a suggestion of what you might use , I tend to use whatever is in the fridge, sometimes supplementing meagre supplies with frozen peas or edamame.. use whatever you have hanging around or is in season.
- Broccoli (or brocollini) Cut into little florets. Don't forget to also use the stems!
- Asparagus , cut into 3 cm pieces
- Red or Yellow Peppers , cut into long batons
- Carrot , cut into long batons
- Mange Toute
- etc & etc (tell me what YOU love in a stir fry!)
For the Stir Fry Base
- 1 knob around the size of your thumb of ginger , grated
- 1 mild chilli , finely chopped
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (depending on your love of garlic!)
- 1 teaspoon of Konbu seaweed dashi (stock/boullion powder) OR half a veggie stock/boullion cube crumbled
- 1 Tbs Oil (I like to use half sesame and half olive, but use whatever)
For the Sauce
- 2 Tbs of Miso
- 3 Tbs of Mirin - which is a sweet rice wine for cooking (or sub 3 Tbs of white wine & a teaspoon of sugar)
- 1 Tbs of Soy Sauce
- Get everything chopped and prepped. Do it first. Don't think you can chop and stir fry at the same time because it WON'T WORK.
- Mix together the sauce ingredients, and have them in bowl or mug or something ready to tip into the stir fry.
- Ok- You got it all ready?
- Heat your wok until it smokes.
- Add in all the veggies AND the stir fry base.
- Cook for a minute or so, until there is a slight char to some of the greens.
- Now add the oil in. Stir, and stir, coating all the veggies in a thin film of the oil.
- Cook for another minute or so (if you have some particularly crunchy veggies, you might want to pop a lid on at this stage to give them all a bit of a steam.
- Now add the sauce. Stir and cook for another minute or so.
- Serve over rice or noodles, adding some toasted nuts and seeds for extra crunchy delicious flavour (see my note in the blog on how to do this!)