I was 22 when I first realized you could make stir fry at home without a wok. Silly I know seeing has I had been living on my own in Chicago for quite a few years at this point. To be fair, I had several chinese delivery places that were open late and my first apartment outside of student housing left a lot to be desired kitchen wise. The AH-AH moment came on my first trip to west coast. I went to visit the guy who would be my first "adult" boyfriend. We had met thru our friend and he was living in Aptos,CA at the time and on a whim I took my first flight of many trips to the coast.
After the drive from SFO to Aptos He rummaged around the kitchen to make fried rice with left over bits of steak, and green beans or broccoli a mix of San-J Szechwan sauce and Soy-Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki. It was amazing. After a long weekend of riding around in his 80's BMW 5 series listening to Pinback, cooking and eating amazing food all over santa cruz county, I came home to Chicago with a boyfriend and a love for the golden state. For six months, he would make me fried rice and I'd make him lasagna every time we were together. I was in the middle of packing up my life in Chicago to move to Santa Barbara when we broke up. Over the years I have perfected the way I make stir fry, swapped out steak for chunks of tofu and white rice for brown. The San-J/Soy-Vay combo however remains.
Cast Iron Stir Fry:
1 block of Tofu
1 Large head of broccoli florets
1 Medium Onion thinly sliced
2 Large Carrots cut in thin coins
Half a lb of Green Beens ends cut off and snapped in half
Red Pepper (I did not have any when I made this time)
A wee bit of oil, just enough to coat the pan between foods.
1/4 cup teriyaki
1.5 table spoons of soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste
1/4 cup Teriyaki
2-5 Tablespoons of Szechwan Sauce (I've been known to sub in some Siracha and rice wine vinegar instead)
You'll also need a large glass pan and cast iron skillet.
Chop up your veggies make sure you do this before, once you start cooking you don't want to stop to chop veggies.
Press and Marinate your tofu for at least 15 minutes but the longer the better.
For Stir Fry: Pre-heat your cast iron skillet and set your pan on the counter close to your stove. add the oil and then the broccoli. let the broccoli get all charred add a table spoon or so of water and cover letting the broccoli get nice bright green. Now remove the broccoli from the pan and place it in the glass dish. Add your veggies one at a time transferring to the dish when done. Next brown the tofu on all sides and add in the rest of the tofu marinade and extra teriyaki and warm it up. Next pour it over the veggies in the dish toss and serve over rice or rice noodles.
For Fried Rice follow the steps until you get to the tofu, This time only place half of the tofu in the pan. When the Tofu has browned, add in Cooked rice and till the rice starts to take on the color add in half of the veggies and the marinade/sauce combo. Place in dish Repeat with remaining steps.
I hope you give this method of stir fry/fried rice a chance. It's amazingly simple and things tasted crisp and crunchy not steamed and soggy like most stir fried. If you have a moment check out the amazing wallets that my friend and fried rice master makes.