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Summer stir-fry

Hooray, I was able to grow celtuce to a harvestable size, despite it getting munched on by a groundhog...twice.

In this photo, I have removed all of the lower leaves to reveal the tasty treasure inside, the stem. (My husband thinks they look like long-necked Alolan Exeggutors.) Before cooking, it's important to peel them, removing any tough inedible fibers on the outside of the stem. Celtuce has a mild taste between lettuce and asparagus and the texture becomes tender when cooked.

I also harvested from my Piracicaba broccoli. One mistake I made in growing this broccoli was not harvesting the top shoot soon enough. See, this broccoli does not produce a large crown like grocery store broccoli, just a small top shoot. But once that top shoot is cut off, it triggers the plant's production of multiple side shoots, as with purple sprouting broccoli. So go ahead and get that top shoot out of the way as soon as it forms to encourage the side shoots.

Pulling the leaves back to show where the top shoot was cut from the broccoli plant as well as the newly growing side shoots.

From my fridge, I had some carrots, bell pepper, pork, and doubanjiang (fermented bean paste...we like the Union Foods brand "hot broad bean sauce," which has just 5 ingredients: chili, broad beans, salt, vinegar, sesame oil). Time to make a stir-fry.

Stir-fry tips:

  • The actual cooking happens quickly, so have everything assembled and ready to go before you turn on the stove.

  • Cut the ingredients to roughly the same size for even cooking. I like to slice cylindrically-shaped veggies (carrots, celtuce) diagonally for bigger bites.

  • If using meat, slice it as thinly as you can. Putting the meat in the freezer for 30 mins to an hour will help it to be more firm for slicing.

  • If you want to add extra flavors to your sauce, mix them in ahead of time: try ginger, garlic, or a little brown sugar for sweetness.

  • Use high heat, use enough oil to coat the pan, and turn on the stovetop exhaust fan.

  • Cook each ingredient separately. Cook all the veggies first, saving the cooking of any protein last. Stir and flip whatever ingredient you are cooking constantly to prevent burning, making sure to taste as you go. That way, you will get the texture you desire from your ingredients. I like the carrots soft, but the broccoli slightly crunchy...and that wouldn't happen if I threw all the veggies in the pan together at the same time because carrots take longer to cook than broccoli.

  • When cooking your chosen protein (meat, egg, tofu, mushroom), begin by temporarily turning the heat to medium to fry the sauce paste in oil until just fragrant (30 seconds). Then crank the heat up again and add the protein, stirring and flipping constantly. Once the protein is cooked, add back all the veggies to warm them through while mixing everything together.

#summer #vegetables #recipe