A Quick Vegetable Tofu Stir-fry

A quick stir-fry can be made with just a few well chosen vegetables.  Put together a colorful combination and always start with a hot wok. Heat a little oil almost to the smoking point. Add the ingredients one at a time starting in the order of the cooking time required.  The stir-frying should take around 6 minutes from beginning to end.  Vegetables should remain crisp.

A Colorful Assortment for a Light Stir-fry

Ingredients (Serves 2 as a side dish)

I red sweet pepper, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 yellow sweet pepper, cut into ¼-inch slices

¼ lb. snow peas, strings removed

1 head baby bok choy, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 pieces firm tofu, cut in half horizontally, then cut into ½-inch cubes

2 T peanut oil

1 T dry sherry

2 T soy sauce

½ t sugar

¼ cup chicken broth (or water)


1. Add oil to a hot wok.

2. Add both sweet pepper slices and stir fry for 1 minute.

3.  Add snow peas and stir fry for 30 seconds

4. Add bok choy pieces and stir fry another 30 seconds.

5. Add tofu and gently fold in.

6. Add the sherry, soy sauce and sugar one at a time.

7. When bubbling, add chicken broth and cover.  Turn heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve over rice.

Photographer Bill Brady

Selecting and Seasoning a Wok

The black patina that develops with use
(photo by sweetpaprika)

Good news:  the best wok, the carbon steel, sometimes called a rolled steel,  also happens to be the least expensive.  Carbon steel will rust so you have to season it and take proper care of it.  However, it is light weight, will take on a black patina over time and nothing will stick to it.  Cast iron is too heavy to maneuver and will interact with acetic ingredients.  Stainless steel, also heavy, will be more expensive.  An electric wok is out of the question as you cannot take food quickly off the heat or manipulate the wok.

Carbon steel is the way to go.  A new wok may be covered with machine oil which must be washed off with detergent and a plastic scrubber or brush.  Never use steel wool on a wok.  Dry the wok and place it on a top burner until the entire surface is hot.  Douse a wad of a rolled up piece of paper towel with peanut (or vegetable) oil and using tongs, wipe the entire surface.  Heat for 10 minutes.  Let cool.  With clean paper towels, wipe out wok.  Repeat this process two more times.

The first couple of times you use a wok, there may be a slight metallic taste, but this will soon wear off. After each use, wash with hot water and detergent and dry thoroughly.  At the beginning, rub with oil again.  After a short while this will not be necessary and in time you will have a beautiful shiny black wok on which nothing will stick.

I prefer a metal spatula for stir frying.  Wooden spatulas quickly discolor and don’t slide cleanly under the food. Happy woking!


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