When I'm looking for a fast dinner solution, I often turn to the wok. Food cooks so quickly over the high heat, flavors building as each ingredient is tossed in with the mix. Check out these quick ideas using beef, shrimp or chicken.
Shaking beef salad: A salad version of the Vietnamese entree, this dish from Gingergrass in Silver Lake works perfectly as a one-dish meal combining the hot, sauteed beef over a cool watercress salad. Strips of filet mignon are marinated in a traditional combination of garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar. Shortly before serving, whisk together a light, ginger-garlic dressing to toss with a salad of crisp watercress and thinly sliced red onion. The beef is quickly sauteed in a wok or skillet until caramelized and aromatic, then arranged on the chilled salad and topped with chopped green onions.
Yang Chow slippery shrimp: This slightly sweet, slightly spicy shrimp dish was introduced at the original Yang Chow, which opened in Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles in 1977. Start to finish, it's ready in only 25 minutes.
Ginger soy chicken wings: These Asian-inspired chicken wings are a tempting take on the classic finger food. The crunchy wings are deep-fried first before they're added to a wok, glazed in a sticky-sweet soy reduction that gets its tang from fresh ginger. No dipping sauce necessary. You can find the recipe below.
GINGER SOY CHICKEN WINGS
Total time: About 1 hour | Serves 4 to 6 appetizer portions
Note: Adapted from Beacon restaurant.
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1. Combine the chicken broth, mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and ginger in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat and reserve.
CHICKEN WINGS AND ASSEMBLY
Vegetable oil for frying
12 whole chicken wings (about 2 pounds), separated at the joints and wing tips removed (save for stock or another use)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup soy-ginger glaze
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish
1. Fill a large, heavy-bottom saucepan with enough oil to come 3 inches up the side. Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees.
2. Season the wings with the salt and pepper, then dredge with the cornstarch. Fry the wings, a few at a time, until lightly golden and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the wings on a rack.
3. When all the wings are fried, heat a wok or heavy saute pan over high heat. Add the reserved ginger-soy sauce and bring to a boil, then add the wings, stirring to coat. Cook the wings in the sauce, stirring constantly, until the sauce reduces enough that it coats the wings in a thick, syrupy glaze.
4. Remove from the heat and toss the wings with the sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Each of 6 servings: 355 calories; 18 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 22 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 51 mg. cholesterol; 1,377 mg. sodium.