My Grandma Yetta lived with us for most of my childhood, to my great delight. She was warm, and kind, and affectionate, and she had a joyful sparkle in her beautiful eyes. And she loved to cook, making people happy with delicious food. One of her specialties was stir-fry, which she often made when it was just her and me having dinner together. I loved helping her prep the veggies and the sauce, and watching her quickly toss the ingredients in her well-seasoned wok, listening to the sound of the foods sizzle, smelling the wonderful aromas as they developed. And, of course, the pleasure of eating the food together.
I still have her old well-seasoned wok. It is a treasured possession, and every time I make a stir fry, I think of her.
Stir fry is one of those wonderfully adaptable recipes that you can really make your own, tweaking the veggies and the sauce to suit your preferences, your mood, and the ingredients available at the time. It’s fun to go to the farmers market and see what’s on offer, then throw together a stir fry using that uber-fresh and local produce, and crown it with a delicious sauce.
Over the years, I’ve tweaked my stir fry’s to meet my dietary trends of the day – low fat in the 80s, vegetarian in the 90s, and Paleo, low carb and then Keto in the 2000s (and since). And stir fry is great because it’s flexible like that. Flexing stir fry to Paleo + Keto (ie. CleanKeto) means replacing soy sauce with healthier coconut aminos, replacing carby rice with nutrient dense cauliflower rice, and skipping the cornstarch thickener in the sauce. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same as a standard stir fry, and tastes just as wonderful as I remember from my days with Grandma.
Here’s my favorite stir fry, with some ideas for variations thrown in – have fun adapting the veggies, protein and/or sauce to make it your own!
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp ginger, grated
- 2 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil, divided
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1.5 pounds boneless pastured chicken thighs, cut into 1″ chunks (or other protein of your choice)
- 1 cup of chopped green veggies, such as broccoli, bok choy, zucchini, asparagus or snap peas
- 1 medium bell pepper, sliced (I like to use a mix of red, orange and yellow bell peppers for color)
- ½ cup water chestnuts, sliced
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- Sliced scallions and/or sesame seeds for garnish
- Cooked cauliflower rice or dry-fried shirataki noodles (optional)
- In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut aminos, garlic and ginger.
- Add the chicken (or other protein) to the coconut amino mixture and let sit to marinate.
- While your protein marinates, mise en place. (Gather, measure and prep your ingredients.)
- Heat your wok or frying pan over high heat for 1 minute.
- Add 1 Tbsp of the avocado or coconut oil, then add the onion and sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes, until onion begins to soften.
- Add in your sturdiest vegetables (the ones that need the longest cooking time), and sauté, stirring frequently, until close to desired tenderness.
- Add in your more delicate (quick-cooking) vegetables, and sauté until all veggies are done to desired tenderness.
- Remove veggies from pan into a large bowl and set aside.
- Add the second 1 Tbsp oil to your still-hot wok or frying pan.
- Add in chicken thighs (or other protein) and marinade.
- Saute over high heat, stirring frequently, until chicken (or other protein) is fully cooked.
- Remove chicken (or other protein) from pan, mixing it into the bowl of already-cooked veggies, add the toasted sesame oil, and stir to combine.
- Voilà! It’s done!
- Serve immediately over cooked cauliflower rice or shirataki noodles, and garnish with sliced scallions and/or sesame seeds, if desired.