Stir Fried Comfort Food
One of my fondest mall (as in shopping) memories - and there are many - is eating the greasy, delicious (or so I thought) Chinese food in the food court amidst a many hours long shopping adventure with whomever I got to take me to the mall when I was little; my shopping passion started right as I learned to walk. And as with any good retail trip, hunger eventually finds you. Hanger is real, my friends.
The mall food court was (is?) a sanctuary of all those foods you never have (often) but also crave simultaneously because eating at the mall during a shopping trip was a treat. And my pride and joy were always the combo platters that offered fried rice and other selections (the other dining option I favored and second-place go-to involved corn dogs).
Time and again I ordered the same thing: double fried rice, double chicken and broccoli. It was always greasy (so much MSG!), delicious, and immensely satisfying given I was eating it when I was hungry beyond words. Little did I know how unhealthy it was, especially considering that most soy sauce is not gluten free, and the sodium content was sky high. Regardless, at that time in my life, eating it was bliss amidst a joyful shopping day at the mall. Calories shmalories.
Fast forward to today, when I tend to avoid food courts, but still go to the mall, and love stir fried dishes made safely gluten free at home. My husband and I have been creating stir fries of varying types over the years, but our most recent was one of the best, in my opinion.
The ingredients tend to run the gamut regarding the types of veggies or protein we select, but for the most part we choose the following: chicken, mushrooms, onions, peppers, broccoli, Chinese broccoli, bok choy, or sometimes when we're feeling creative we add in shrimp instead of chicken. Wild, I know!
In a past apartment, we had a gas stove which was perfect for making a stir fry using a wok, but now that we are living with a flat-top electric setup, our wok days are on hold. We use a large nonstick skillet from All-Clad instead which does very well. Someday we'll have a gas range again and life will be beautiful! But I digress...
In terms of the meal itself, we stir fry the chicken or protein first, set it aside, and then cook all of the veggies together, adding them one by one to the very hot pan, adding seasoning along the way and eventually adding the cooked protein back in at the end so that it absorbs all of the wonderful sauces and flavors that are already in the pan, cooking away.
For sauce: we always use Gluten Free Organic Tamari, which is the same as soy sauce but without gluten. Win! We also add a hearty amount of Sriracha or chili-garlic sauce because we love spicy food, and usually a little Worcestershire sauce and even sake to de-glaze the pan while cooking. The joy in stir fries is that you can season however you like and control the spice-level by adding as much or as little kick as you prefer. The extra kick is my preference. :)
The stir fry is not complete (we think) unless served over rice and that's another area you can be as selective as you like. We always/usually make organic Jasmine rice because it's bland enough to take on the flavor of the stir fry sauce once you put the dish together. You could easily substitute with brown rice, quinoa, or even another starch, but our choice is Jasmine because remember, we are creating a comfort food meal! The healthy aspect of this is all of the veggies (naturally gluten free BTW) you're tossing together, and then placing beautifully over your bowl of piping hot rice - also naturally gluten free.
While our stir fry dinner is a much improved meal from my early days of food court gluttony (I can still taste that combo plate!), it is a revamped at-home version of "mall Chinese food" that I find exceptionally delicious and just as comforting, and far healthier. Even more so because I know it's made gluten free and safe for my Celiac self. Now, if I need a snack break during a shopping trip, I'll bring some of these (excellent) leftovers with me. Just kidding! ;-)
Dinner notes: for this dish we used the following ingredients, but you may adjust as you prefer based on your favorite veggies: Chinese broccoli, Hen of the Wood mushrooms, Crimini mushrooms, one large onion, garlic, skinless/boneless chicken, GF tamari, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, and one and a half cups of Jasmine rice (we love leftovers). Amounts of veggies depend on how much you're looking to prepare and if you like one item more than others. All veggies and protein were purchased at Wilson Farm. The GF Tamari and other sauces can be found at most grocery stores, but we have been shopping at Wegman's and Whole Foods for these pantry-type items. Enjoy!