On days where I abstain from meat eating for religious reasons, I always tend to try something new in my meals, and while stir fry lunches and dinners feature prominently in my food, when I am able to source the right ingredients after scouring the Chinese grocers East of Johannesburg, gleaning from them in label-reading the ingredients in the fish sauces, excluding soy and sugar and sometimes finding that second to last bottle and buying both, they run out quickly, depending on how often I chose to use it.
I use Chinese 5-spice powder and Szechuan Pepper often to spice my stir fry, which provides the taste that I am after, and a wee bit of apple cider vinegar to give it that almost soy taste. Cooking this stir fry and wanting to add a bit of sweet-sour taste to my meal without sugar or dates, I tried making a “sauce” using the Chinese 5 spice, a little apple cider vinegar and coconut-soaked water (I used dried, desiccated, unsweetened coconut, left to soak overnight in water – the quantities were not measured, just enough warm water to lightly cover the coconut and enough for the coconut to absorb and flavour the water – squeezed out the next morning to produce coconut water. I am not sure that the taste effect would be the same with fresh coconut as I didn’t try it. This combination provides the sweet-sour taste in this recipe and added to the vegetable in the last 2-3 minutes of the stir fry, provided the taste that I was looking for.
Additionally, using coconut oil added the nutty taste to complete this easy to make, quick and crunchy textured stir fry. The combination of vegetable may vary to your choice as too will the addition of protein, should you wish to make this a non-veg stir fry. There are no quantities provided in this recipe as a lot depends on your degree of spiciness and taste desired.
1-2 tblsp coconut oil
crushed garlic cloves
green chilli (optional)
Fresh lemongrass stalk
Baby marrow / courgette zoodles (sliced finely with a vegetable peeler / Shogun power peeler
Carrot zoodles sliced as above
Assorted mushrooms sliced
Coconut soaking water
apple cider vinegar
Chinese 5 spice powder
Himalayan or sea salt to taste
lightly browned unsweetened coconut flakes for garnish
fresh coriander for garnish
Additional vegetables may include:
Bok Choy (Chinese cabbage)
Sugar snap peas
Prepare your washed baby marrow and carrot noodles using your vegetable peeler
Cut up the mushrooms and rinse out the broccoli tips and mix together
Add coconut oil to a pan or wok, when hot, add in the cumin seeds, onion, garlic and green chilli, if preferred, curry leaves, and quickly combine on high heat
Make a mixture of the apple cider vinegar, coconut soaking water, Chinese 5 spice powder and Szechuan pepper as per your taste requirements and combine well, add to the stir fry and cook for maximum of 3-5 minutes. Add salt and other seasoning as desired. Serve immediately, garnished with lightly toasted coconut flakes and fresh coriander.