TOLEDO, Ohio — Like many of you, I am cooking at home every meal. I used to eat out a lot before the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to 10 times a week, and somehow it's cheaper to eat out daily than to cook every meal at home.

Through a lot of practice and reps, I have perfected the Chinese stir fry. Normally, sharing this recipe would be sacrilegious. During a pandemic, my mother approves.

The core combination of sauces can work with virtually any protein and veggie combination. 

Let's say we're making broccoli beef.

I slice the beef thinly (1/3 of a pound) and marinate it in rice cooking wine, soy sauce, and tapioca corn starch. Mix it together.

We're talking less than a quarter cup of soy and rice wine. A tablespoon of starch. The starch softens up the meat. Cut up the veggie - about two broccoli crowns. It's the simplest mise en place. Prep time no more than 10 minutes.

Cooking is reasonably easy too. Bring water to a boil. Salt and oil it. Par cook the broccoli for maybe a minute. In a hot, oiled frying pan, add beef and a tablespoon of Hoisin sauce. It'll be thick because of the starch. Add a little bit of water to create a sauce. Add broccoli and fold in the two ingredients. The total cook time is 8 minutes.

That's a classic Chinese stir fry for you. Tonight, I replaced the beef with squid and the broccoli with julienned peppers. Try beef with tomatoes, beef with green beans, chicken and asparagus. The possibilities are endless.

The meat we tend to use is top sirloin beef or chicken breast. The ingredients can either be found at Whole Foods in West Toledo or Lai Lai on Central Avenue.

Don't forget, for simplified Chinese stir fries, it's rice wine, soy sauce, and starch. Remember that and you'll be dishing up better fare than you'd get at Panda Express.

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