Monday, February 11, 2008

CI’s Orange-Sesame Stir-Fry Sauce: Just When I Thought I Was Out

Right before my senior year of college, I successfully executed my very first stir-fry for my friends J and B. Thinking back, I’m sure it was fairly basic: bottled marinade, some peppers, an onion, and probably some chicken. Yet, I was SO proud. Embarrassingly proud. Prouder than I was at my actual graduation. (And I had three majors! But one was Communication, which is kind of like majoring in T.V. and Beer. Anyway…)

Nowadays, I still rely on stir-fry when time is tight and ingredients are low. They’re incredibly quick, infinitely protean, and skimping on oil doesn’t make a crazy difference in the taste. Their one drawback is the cost of semi-decent sauces. The cheap ones are full of high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. The expensive ones are … well, expensive.

Enter Cook’s Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe, a cookbook I swore to back away from for awhile. (I lied.) On page 102, the editors have a five-recipe list of stir-fry sauces you can make from everyday kitchen staples. A few weeks ago, I highlighted the Sweet and Sour variety (also good for dipping!) Last night, I tried the Orange Sesame, which shall henceforth be called “Awesome Sauce,” a la Tenacious D.

Here’s how it went: first, I steamed 2/3rd cup broccoli in a shallow pan for about 4 minutes, until they were crisp-tender. (The water had evaporated, so there was no need to drain.) Then, over medium heat, I added a ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil and sautéed ¼ teaspoon of grated ginger and ¼ teaspoon of minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Finally, a ¼ cup of Awesome Sauce went in. It took about three minutes to thicken, but when it did …

So. Good.

My apartment still smells like a high-class Chinese joint, which is very different from the coffee-and-dust scent it usually sports. The Boyfriend gave Awesome Sauce a wide-eyed “Mm!” of approval as well, and it’s definitely on the short list for V-Day this Thursday. Plus? One serving costs a grand total of $0.19. I’m over the moon.

In the coming weeks, I’ll really, honest-to-goodness attempt to put the CI book down (even though we tried the Cold Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken, and it, too, transcends mere food). So, you can expect recipes from other places. Like …

Or maybe …

And then there’s …

Okay. No promises.

Orange-Sesame Stir-Fry Sauce
Makes enough for 4 servings of stir-fry (1 lb protein + 1-1/2 lbs vegetables)
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Best 30-Minute Recipe.

½ cup orange juice
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (I used regular sesame oil and it worked well. – Kris)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1) Mix all ingredients. In a bowl. Thoroughly. With a whisk, if you like. Add it towards the end of any stir-fry and heat to thicken. You won't be sorry.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
53 calories, 2.5 g fat, $0.19

Calculations
½ cup orange juice: 55 calories, 0 g fat, $0.16
¼ cup soy sauce: 34 calories, 0 g fat, $0.38
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth: 22 calories, 0.75 g fat, $0.06
2 teaspoons toasted (or regular – Kris) sesame oil: 80 calories, 9 g fat, $0.12
2 teaspoons cornstarch: 20 calories, 0 g fat, $0.02
TOTAL: 211 calories, 9.75 g fat, $0.74
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 53 calories, 2.5 g fat, $0.19

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9 comments:

Rob in Madrid said...

Wow does that ever look good! Wow, can hardly wait to try it out. Keep the quick easy reciepes a coming

Alsafi said...

Toasted sesame oil has such a completely different flavor profile than untoasted--it must be an awesome recipe, if it was that good even without the toasted oil! (But you really should get some toasted (or dark) sesame oil--it's really worth it if you do much stir-frying, and makes a really good dipping sauce for those frozen potstickers, too--equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar with a few drops of toasted sesame oil is terrific. Kadoya brand is generally easy to find, and not very expensive.)

Anonymous said...

you're making me want to buy this cookbook! I wish I didn't already have the quick recipe one- but the 30 minute recipes sound quite good and different from the Quick recipe.

Kris said...

Thank you for the info, alsafi. I had no idea they were so different and will pick up some toasted oil next time I hit the market. D'oh!

(But yeah - the recipe's goooood with regular ol' sesame oil, too.)

(So good.)

Brandon said...

I tried this, forgot the cornstartch though, and it was pretty good. I cooked chicken in the pan first with some garlic and the oil. (I used olive oil, all we had on hand) and it turned out very good. The leftovers I took and add a bit more soy sauce to and tossed in the rest of the green beans we had wit hit and it was awesome served up like that. Orange Chicken and Beans. Defiantly will be making it again, I'd like to try it with pea pods though.

Kris said...

Brandon - I'm so glad it worked out for you, even sans cornstarch. Pea pods sound like a good addition, too.

kathy said...

Kris - when you say you used "regular" sesame oil, are you sure? This would be a flavorless light colored oil like corn oil or safflower oil. If it's dark at all, or it's for Chinese recipes and comes in a small bottle, it's "toasted" whether or not it says so. It would add no flavor whatsoever to your recipe if you used "regular" sesame oil

Kris said...

Hi Kathy - I used Sesame OIl (not corn or sunflower). It didn't say "toasted" on the bottle, but Alsafi up there (in the comment section) argues there's a difference. I'm not sure ...

Anonymous said...

FYI, this recipe is listed as vegan in your index... chicken broth = not vegan or vegetarian.