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Stir-Fry From First Principles: Here in this universe, I wanted stir-fry. But, I had never before in my life made stir-fry. What's more, I was young and brash, and I felt it was foolish to make stir-fry from a bag of frozen vegetables, or indeed read instructions of any kind about how to stir-fry. No, I would derive a tasty stir-fry from first principles![0]

What goes into a stir-fry? Two things: cooked rice and stir-fried vegetables. Cooking rice is easy enough if you have a rice cooker: just put x amount of rice and 2x+y amount of water in the rice cooker, and push the "cook" button. Because I have an obsession with putting more stuff in than is neccessary (qv. still-unwritten entry), I also added some salt and chopped parsley.

That's easy enough. Now, the stir-fried vegetables. When other people make stir-fry they put in disgusting vegetables like water chestnuts, those loathsome pickpockets of the briny deep. Ships pick them up in ballast water off the coast of Hong Kong and they come as stowaways to the bustling port cities of the world, where they infiltrate bags of frozen stir-fry vegetables and lie in wait, seeking to trap unwary eaters with their fingernails-on-chalkboard texture. Because of this, and because I am cranky, there could be no bagged stir-fry vegetables for this stir-fry. I would do it with fresh vegetables.

I could not find any baby corn (possibly my favorite vegetable of all time, and a great addition to stir-fry) at the store, so I did without. I got a bag of baby carrots, a head of broccoli, and some Chinese snap peas. I also got an onion and some ginger (the ginger cost only eight cents! Such a deal!).

I grated the ginger and chopped up the onion, carrots and broccoli. Then I prepared the stir-fry sauce, not to be confused with fry sauce, which consisted of... olive oil. Wait! I'll get to the other stuff later. I dropped in the onion and the ginger, let that saute a bit, then put in the carrots. Carrots contain carrotene, a fibrous substance that makes the vegetable take forever to cook. This is why I chopped up the carrots very finely and put them in first. After a few minutes I put in the broccoli. You must constantly be swishing the food around the wok or skillet, or instead of "stir fry" you will have "leave alone fry".

Then it was time to add my flavorings. I keep a variety of liquids on hand for just such an occasion. Today I used rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Just dump it in and let it form a puddle for the vegetables to pass through as you stir.

This went on for maybe ten or fifteen minutes, until I tasted a carrot and it was acceptably tender. At the last minute I added the snap peas. The high surface area of snap peas means they cook very quickly. Also, I am just making all this stuff up. I dressed with some sesame seeds (courtesy of Sumana) and voila: great stir-fry!

My only mistakes: the rice was a tiny bit undercooked because I was starving and unwilling to wait for it to finish cooking. I should have put in the ginger at the very end so the taste would be more noticeable. Also, despite hours of drudgery in my youth, I forgot that pea pods have to be peeled before they're cooked or you'll be stuck peeling them afterwards. This does, however, have the cool side effect that while cooking the pea pods fill with hot air and expand like Girl Genius-esque dirigible balloons.

[0] I actually asked Sumana for advice, but her advice confirmed what I thought was right, so technically I still did it from first principles.

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