The two vegetables we’re getting a lot of in our CSA right now are carrots and zucchini. That’s just fine with me because I have SO many fun ways to use them. Tonight I’m going to bake some carrot zucchini bread, and last night we had the fastest stir fry ever. Seriously! The rice took 20 minutes, but once it was done I whipped up this stir fry in less than five minutes, in fact the entire meal was ready in under half an hour.When I’m not sure what to make for dinner, or am feeling homesick for an Asian culture, I begin whipping up small dishes in my head. In Japanese cooking it’s very common to have lots of small and different dishes for a meal. Normally each person would have their own small dish to eat each item from, but in the interest of less dish washing, Eric and I shared all but the stir fry.
Stir fried vegetables at “Teriyaki” Restaurants in Washington make me sad. They’re cooked to the point of near mush, soggy impersonators of the vegetables they used to be. Next they’re drowned in a sickeningly sweet sludge that I know must cancel out any nutritional value that once existed. With each bite I simply taste the restaurant’s signature flavor “teriyaki goo”.
In fact the whole idea of a “Teriyaki” restaurant confuses me. No those aren’t unnecessary quotes, I say “Teriyaki” because to me teriyaki is a sauce, not a style of food. My co-workers will go get “teriyaki” for lunch and come back with chicken katsu and fried mandoo. Where’s the teriyaki? In Hawaii if I wanted chicken katsu I’d go to a Japanese restaurant, or I’d buy fried mandoo from a Korean restaurant. Hamburgers were at a hamburger joint, and sushi shops were on nearly every block.
But in Washington I go to one “Teriyaki” restaurant and am bombarded with options: teriyaki bowls, fried mandoo, egg rolls, stir fried vegetables, hamburgers, french fries, mozzarella sticks, sushi, and more. Now, I admit, Hawaii does have the ubiquitous plate lunch. In a plate lunch you may find pork lau lau with kalbi beef, foods from different cultures. But put them alongside rice and a scoop of mac salad, and you get a plate lunch which is really it’s own cuisine.
Does that mean I should see Hamburger Teriyaki Joints as their own cuisine? I think I’ll continue to be skeptical until I find one that doesn’t force me to choose between lousy teriyaki or a bad burger. What do you think?
Well enough ranting…this carrot zucchini stir fry is light and fresh. Although dressed in a simple sauce, the taste of the vegetables (picked day of at our local CSA!) shines through. The vegetables are cooked just enough to soften them but still keep a nice crunch. If you aren’t sure how to julienne cut, this julienne slicer is my absolute favorite! It took me under a minute to turn a couple carrots and a zucchini into beautiful green and orange ribbons.
Carrot Zucchini Stir Fry Recipeserves 2
1 TBS canola oil
2 TBS shoyu (soy sauce)
2 TBS rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 TBS fish sauce
Julienne the zucchini and carrots. Heat the canola oil in a skillet on medium high. When the oil shimmers add the zucchini and carrots and stir to evenly coat them with the oil. Cook stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes until vegetables are just softened and pliable.
Add shoyu, rice vinegar, sugar and fish sauce and mix well. Serve over steamed white or brown rice.
Approximate cost/serving: If you don’t have a neighbor leaving their bounty of zucchini on your doorstep, it’s still cheap to get in the store right now. At current prices in my area it’s only $1.20 a serving including rice.
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: It’s already vegetarian and you can even skip the fish sauce to make it vegan. Use tamari instead of shoyu to make it gluten free.