I was kind of surprised that the stir-fried broccoli dish one last week’s poll. I guess people are still trying to stick to those new year’s resolutions so maybe chewy brownies are a no-no.
Anyway, I made a dish very simple to this a few months ago, but the technique that they recommend in Cook’s Illustrated for stir-frying broccoli is definitely different than the one I used. It produced great results though.
Warning: If you’re not a broc lover, maybe you should skip this post and just check out a random recipe or something.
But assuming you even somewhat like the green stuff, this is a great dish. It’s very healthy and just left me feeling energized. Betsy had the same review and even handled the leftovers before I could have any!
1) Cut broccoli into even-sized pieces. Peel the stalk and cut it into about 1/4 inch pieces. You can go as big as 1/2 inch pieces for the florets.
2) Prepare the rice according to package.
3) Combine garlic oil ingredients in a small bowl and let them marinate a bit.
4) Whisk together main sauce ingredients in a separate bowl as well.
5) Add broccoli to a large skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of oil. This will give the broccoli time to steam a bit as it cooks.
6) After about 6 minutes of cooking, add sugar to the broccoli and continue to cook. The sugar should caramelize the broccoli a bit.
7) Right before broccoli is cooked, make a small well in the pan and add in the garlic oil mixture. Let it cook for 15 seconds in the hot spot and then mix everything together.
8) Finally add the main sauce and stir. Cook for about a minute and the sauce should thicken immediately.
9) Serve the broccoli over rice with extra Sriracha and/or chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.
Prepping the Broc
One of the most important things about this recipe is making sure you take your time prepping the broccoli.
You need to make sure that the stalks and florets are cut into evenly sized pieces or the dish won’t cook evenly. The stalk pieces are much harder to cook so cut them into smaller pieces. I did about 1/2 inch pieces for my florets and 1/4 inch pieces for my stalk.
The exact size isn’t as important as making sure that your pieces are uniform.
Also, before you cut up your stalk, remember to peel it! The outside skin of the stalk is really tough, but the inside is tender and tasty.
Besides the broccoli, there are three things you need to do to get this meal ready. You want to make sure to do all of these or at least get them started before actually starting to cook your broccoli. The cooking will go fast once it’s started.
Rice – Gotta have rice with this meal in my opinion. I used some Basmati, but use whatever you have available.
Garlic Chili Oil – We’ll add this to our broc near the end, but basically just combine your oil, chopped garlic, and red pepper flakes in a bowl and let them chill for now.
The main sauce – The main sauce for the broccoli has a chicken broth base. I beefed my version up a bit from the one they had in the magazine by adding some sriracha to it.
The chicken broth I used was some I had frozen from the stock I made after my five spice roasted chicken. See! Making stock does pay off later!
Basically, just whisk together all of your sauce ingredients so the cornstarch doesn’t clump and then you’re all set!
Cooking the broccoli
I’ve had pretty good success stir-frying broccoli in the past by steaming it slightly first and then cooking in a blazing hot pan.
The method they recommend give you the best of both worlds but definitely contradicts what I think of when I think of stir-fry. For one, the recommend against using a wok. Instead, they recommend a heavy skillet.
Second, instead of high heat, they say to cook over a medium high heat which will give the broccoli time to steam a bit while cooking.
Third, and most strangely of all, the say to sprinkle a tiny pinch of sugar on it cooks. This will bring out the sweetness in the broccoli and also help to caramelize it a bit.
All of these things worked like a charm for me!
I added my broccoli to a hot pan with a Tablespoon or two of oil over medium high heat and let it cook for a few minutes, stirring every minute or two. Then I hit it with a pinch of sugar and stirred more. My broc was perfectly cooked and a bit brown after 10 minutes!
Adding the Sauces
CI recommends adding the garlic oil after your broccoli is mostly cooked so it doesn’t burn. Following their lead, I made a well in my pan and poured the oil garlic mixture right in the center!
Let that cook over the same heat for literally 15-20 seconds. Then mix it all together with your garlic.
Next, add your main sauce to the mix. It should start bubbling immediately. Stir continuously for the next minute or so and the sauce should cook down pretty substantially.
It should coat the broccoli but not be really thick like some sauces that you get with take-out dishes.
This was how my finished version looked:
I plated my stir-fry over rice and drizzled it with a little extra Sriracha for more heat and topped it with chopped peanuts and sesame seeds for some texture.
I think my previous method of quickly steaming the broc and then stir-frying it over high heat works equally well, but this is a bit easier and only requires one pot.
It’s a great way to guarantee good results with stir-fried broccoli and the sauce is really awesome.