Achieving balance with veggie stir-fry

Recipe: Combining common vegetables can produce a harmonious dish

March 15, 2000

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, the noted Cantonese cook, says her recipe for Harmonious Vegetable Stir-Fry (Wor Hop Saw Choi) is meant to illustrate how a combination of common vegetables can become a dish of harmony and balance. "The mung bean sprouts and cucumbers are essentially cooling, carrots are warming," she says. "Stir-frying as a cooking process is considered warming, but peanut and sesame oils are neutral." Therefore, she says, the dish is in perfect balance -- and quite healthy.

The recipe is from her latest cookbook, "The Chinese Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients, History, and Memories From America's Leading Authority on Chinese Cooking." (HarperCollins, $30).

Harmonious Vegetable Stir-Fry

Serves 4

6 cups cold water

1 slice of ginger, 1/4-inch thick and lightly smashed

10 ounces mung bean sprouts

1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

3/4 cup carrot slices, 2 inches long by 1/2-inch wide and 1/8-inch thick

2/3 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into

1/4-inch thick half moons

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

To blanch the mung bean sprouts, place the water and ginger in a pot, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bean sprouts and blanch for 5 seconds only. Turn off the heat. Run cold water into the pot and drain. Repeat and drain well. Discard the ginger. Reserve the bean sprouts.

Heat a wok (or other suitable pan) over high heat for 45 seconds. Add the peanut oil and coat the pan well, using a spatula. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the salt and garlic, stir, and cook for 10 seconds, until the garlic fragrance is released. Add the carrots and cook, stirring, for 2 1/2 minutes, until the carrots soften slightly. Add the cucumber and stir for 1 minute or until softened. Add the reserved sprouts and stir for 10 seconds. Turn off the heat and continue to stir for another 10 seconds. Add the sesame oil to the mixture and combine well. Transfer to a heated dish and serve.

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