You have mastered ground beef! And now you’re tired of it, always on its own. Or you’ve developed scurvy from the lack of vitamin C in your diet. Whatever the reason, it is time to add some colour to your stir fry!
Different colours in vegetables tend to correspond to different combinations of nutrients and other phytochemicals. As such, one easy way to try and have a more balanced diet is to include a large amount of them, of varying colours.
Pan frying vegetables is easy enough to do; the key idea is to neither overcook them nor undercook them.
Whatever vegetables you want to add, here are the things to keep in mind:
Slicing and Dicing
You want to cut the vegetables into fairly even pieces, so that they will all cook at about the same rate. Smaller and thinner pieces cook faster, while with larger pieces you sometimes have to be careful to make sure the pieces are cooked through.
Take a look at your vegetables.
Is it onion, ginger, or garlic? These three fall into the category of fried seasoning. Most of the time, you will be adding these to the pan first, frying them up in some oil. For onions, you want to cook them until they are somewhat translucent; I personally like browning them slightly, as I find it makes them more flavourful.
Is it hard and crunchy, like carrots, celery, and cauliflower? If so, you will want to add the vegetables to your pan earlier during the cooking process, so that they have time to soften up.
Is it somewhat crunchy, like red peppers, or broccoli? If so, you will want to add it later in the process, closer to the end, but with still enough time to soften them up a bit.
Is it delicate/have a high water content, such as spinach or chives? These you will usually want to add near the end, as they soften quite quickly.
Is it a high starch item, such as potatoes, yams, and squash? These take considerable time to cook if frying in the pan. I will often soften them up by steaming them first. Boiling or baking will also work.
So there you go!
Next time you fry up some ground beef for tacos, or some such, try frying up some onions and garlic first, and then adding the meat.
If you want an actual stir-fry, cook up some onions, garlic, ginger, ground beef, celery, red peppers, and chives, with a bit of soy sauce for flavouring, and have it with a side of white rice! The more practice you get frying up a variety of vegetables, the better you will become at understanding how long each type of vegetable needs to cook in order to be the perfect medium between crunchy and soft.