A week into my stay with our daughter a couple of years ago, I was making supper when she said “You really like stir-fry.” They do not eat beef, not big fans of fish, pasta and other carbs are frowned upon. So yes, I do find stir-fry the easiest way to make lots of vegetables and just a little meat, and sorry that this is the fifth time we’ve had it in some form this week, but it’s my version of casseroles. Much healthier, meat is optional, but all kinds of vegetables make the cut. A bit of sauce, which can be endlessly varied, and everybody’s happy.
In 1981 I picked up this cookbook. There was an excellent Chinese restaurant just a few steps down the block from my office and we found ourselves eating lunch there too many times a week. I had to learn how to make those dishes we liked so much. Over the years I’ve incorporated more Asian influences but this cookbook gave me a base, showing me techniques and common ingredients, and a sauce to fit every dish.
Even though my granddaughter’s favorite food in the world is Chinese noodles, her mom discourages them. To be fair, I should mention that they’re all thin and healthy, so this kind of diet is obviously working for them. We substituted spaghetti squash for noodles, rice, and pasta several times while I was at their house. Even my clam linguine got a makeover.
I tend to use a lot of onions, celery, carrots, and peppers because they’re readily available year round. Other vegetables that would work well – sugar snap or snow peas, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, canned baby corn, zucchini, mushrooms. Buy fresh ginger, cut it into 1″ pieces and keep it in the freezer. It can be peeled and grated easily when it’s frozen. Use fresh garlic too.
The best meat options are cooked, shredded chicken, or cooked, peeled shrimp. If using shrimp, toss them in at the end for just long enough to warm. If you’re into tofu, a bit of that works in place of meat.
– Joan, 9 April 2021
Spaghetti squash chow mein
- 1-2 lb. spaghetti squash, cooked and scooped from shell
- 2 cups shredded green cabbage
- 3-4 carrots, grated
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 pepper, sweet or green, chopped
- 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into small pieces, or 1/2 lb. cooked, peeled shrimp
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- green onions and peanuts for garnish, optional
To cook the squash, cut a couple of slits through the skin. Bake whole in a 350ºF oven for 45-60 minutes, till it feels gives easily if you lightly squeeze it. Let cool before cutting open. Scoop out and discard seeds. Use a fork to remove the flesh.
Chop all of the vegetables and chicken. Mix the soy sauce and chicken stock with the sugar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, and pepper.
Sauté onion, celery, and peppers in olive oil in a large fry pan or Dutch oven. When they are slightly softened, add cabbage and carrots, chicken, sauce mixture, and spaghetti squash. Toss well to combine and let it cook for a few minutes till cabbage begins to soften slightly. Garnish with chopped green onions and/or peanuts and serve immediately.