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04/12/2011

~ Mel's All-Purpose Asian-Style Vegetable Saute ~

PICT1399 I refer to this all-vegetable side-dish as a saute rather than a stir-fry.  While both of these cooking methods are similar (because they both cook food somewhat quickly in oil over direct heat), a saute typically cooks it slightly longer.  In the case of vegetables:  a saute produces vegetables that are soft, but not mushy or overcooked; a stir-fry produces vegetables that are very crisp-tender.  While I love a good stir-fry, there are times when I believe the kinder, gentler saute suits the fare better, which is how I came to develop this recipe!

About 13-14 years ago, I was given my nextdoor neighbor's mother's recipe for ~ Honey-Sesame Pork w/Garlic-Ginger Sauce ~, which you can find here at Kitchen Encounters in Categories 3 & 13.  I loved this dish with its sesame-soy marinated, sesame seed-topped, fork-tender pork and highly-flavored garlic-ginger sauce.  It was intuitively obvious that it should be accompanied by some sort of Asian vegetables and steamed rice, but this pork was so delicious I wanted my vegetable and rice accompaniments to be well-above ordinary! 

PICT1316 Because this pork is so tender, I decided to by-pass the stir-fry route and go with a subtly-flavored, slightly spicy vegetable saute:  a little sesame oil and soy sauce for flavor and a few diced Thai chiles for spice.  No overkill:  I wanted to make sure the flavor of each and every vegetable shined through.  

I took the time to dice the vegetables, so at serving time they would be a slightly-soft bed for all of the thin slices of pork.  When the flavorful sauce was drizzled on top, each forkful would be a mouthful of tender, juicy pork and a lot of al dente vegetables bursting with garlic-ginger flavor... and each one was.  While dicing the vegetables is extra work (as opposed to large chunks and pieces), it is time well spent, and, it is a task that can be done up to a day ahead of time!

(As for the rice dish, you'll have to check back tomorrow, when I post ~ Mel's "Jazzed Up" Jasmine Rice & Pineapple ~, which will also be found in Categories 4 & 13!)

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6  tablespoons sesame oil

6  tablespoons Golden Mountain seasoning soy sauce

3  cups thinly sliced green onion, white and light green part only

3  cups diced yellow or sweet onion

3  cups diced green bell pepper 

3  cups diced red bell pepper

8  thinly sliced Thai chile peppers, more or less, to taste

2  tablespoons finely diced or minced garlic cloves, more or less, to taste

4  tablespoons finely diced or minced, fresh ginger, more or less, to taste

1-2  15-ounce cans straw mushrooms, well-drained and coarsely chopped

1  8-ounce can water chestnuts, well-drained and coarsely chopped

1 1/2  cups minced, fresh cilantro leaves, as few stems as possible, for garnish

PICT1312 ~ Step 1.  In a 14" chef's pan w/straight deep sides, place the sesame oil and soy sauce.  Prep all of the vegetables as directed, adding them to the pan as you work, with the exception of the cilantro.  

Place the prepped cilantro in a food storage bag and refrigerate until serving time.

PICT1317 ~ Step 2.  Using a large spoon, thoroughly combine all of the vegetables, continuing to stir until they are all evenly coated in the sesame oil and soy sauce.

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~ Step 3.  Adjust heat to medium-high and saute, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are soft, but not overcooked, about 6 minutes...

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... Vegetables will still have most of their textural integrity and still be brightly colored.  Remove from heat.  Note:  I like to prep all of my vegetables early in the day and place them in the pan on the stovetop.  At dinner time, when the pork comes out of the oven, gets covered with foil and rests for 15 minutes, I turn the stove on and saute the vegetables.  Timing is everything!

Slice the pork as directed.  Place a large scoop of Mel's Asian-Style Vegetable Saute on each of 8-12 warmed serving dishes, top with sliced pork and drizzle with garlic-ginger sauce.  Serve immediately:

PICT1376 Mel's All-Purpose Asian-Style Vegetable Saute:  Recipe yields 12-18 generous servings, enough to accompany a full recipe for my Honey-Sesame Pork w/Garlic-Ginger Sauce.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; large spoon

Cook's Note:  Leftovers keep nicely in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheat perfectly in the microwave.  This being said, if you are not making the full recipe for the pork, I wrote this recipe so you can easily cut it in half.  While I developed this recipe to serve with my Honey-Sesame Pork, this flavorful, versatile recipe is a great side-dish for many Asian recipes, as well as a spicy condiment to top grilled poultry or fish!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)

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