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Stir-Fry with Oomph!

Mediteran mit SchmackesMy wife always jokes that I cook like Max Inzinger, a famous TV chef from the 1970s. One of his peculiarities was that when he cooked he had hundreds of little jars arranged in front of him. The jars contained all the ingredients he needed, already cleaned and chopped and ready to use. If he needed diced onions: Ta-da! There's the onion jar! It made cooking look easy and even relaxing.

I do the same thing. First I get all my ingredients ready, and then I put them in separate containers. It makes cooking more fun. I let my wife wash the jars. ;-)

Joking aside, there are recipes where all the little jars or pots are essential. A Mediterranean stir-fry is one such recipe. The actual cooking time takes only a few minutes, and the timing of when you add each ingredient is very important. Everything needs to be cooked thoroughly, but still crisp and not overcooked; this won't happen if you're still slicing and dicing while adding ingredients. Leave plenty of prep time beforehand. All the pieces of a vegetable should be uniform in size. Otherwise, the little pieces will be overcooked while the larger ones will still be raw.

To give our stir-fry some "oomph," we'll make a hearty herb-and-cream sauce that rounds out the taste of the dish. The "oomph" in our Mediterranean stir fry is really a stunner!

Mediterranean Stir-Fry to serve 4:

500 g (1 pound)pork shoulder
3cloves of garlic
2onions
1green bell pepper
3tomatoes
1carrot
2 bunchesscallions
250 g (10 oz)green beans
2small zucchini
4 tbsphard cheese
1lemon grass
Olive oil, salt, pepper

Oomph!

100 g (4 oz)cream cheese (double cream)
100 g (4 oz)whipping cream
1/4 dspsalt
Garden herbs (thyme, oregano, chives, parsley, marjoram) Chili, pepper

First we'll cut up all our ingredients. I tried to cut everything into large enough pieces that 3 or 4 will fit on a fork, so that with each bite you'll get a different combination of flavors. For our meat (which isn't necessary, although it tastes better with meat) we used pork shoulder. If you don't want all the fat, you can cut some of it out, but it's important that the meat be well-marbled. Otherwise it will get too dry. Julienne the zucchini and cut the carrots into 2-mm-thick slices; cut the pepper and scallions into thin strips. Snap the green beans and, with the carrots, blanch them in salt water for 5 minutes.

Zutaten mediterane PfanneOnce everything is prepared, you can finally start cooking. Place a large (and preferably deep) pan on the stove and use it to warm the olive oil, turning the heat to the highest setting. (The stove will remain on high the entire time.) The pressed garlic and the lemongrass, cut once lengthwise go into the pan first. You'll take the lemongrass back out of the pan at the end. When they begin to brown, add the meat. After 3 minutes add the onions, cooking them until they're translucent. Then the pepper and tomatoes can be added. Season very lightly with salt. Experienced chefs will notice that we're not deglazing anything. That's intentional. All the moisture for cooking comes from the vegetables. We'll make the sauce later, but for now, our stir-fry cooks best if the pan is just slightly moist. Of course, you'll need to stir the whole time to make sure your ingredients don't burn. If you notice that there's no liquid left on the bottom of the pan, just put the cover on the pan for 20 seconds.

Next, at 1-minute intervals, add green beans, carrots, and scallions. The zucchini should only be added at the very end, because it cooks really fast. While still stirring, sprinkle with 4 tbsp grated hard cheese (you can also use Parmesan cheese if you like). Let the liquid in the pan evaporate. Finally, add salt. The hard cheese adds a lot of flavor. Everything is ready after only 10 minutes of cooking time.

mediterane PfanneIf you've already chopped your herbs, the "oomph!" will be ready in no time. Just stir together the cream and cream cheese and then add salt, herbs, and some chili powder to taste.

What we like about the recipe is that the meat is juicy while the vegetables are crisp and flavorful. We haven't lost the flavor by boiling everything. The special thing about the recipe is definitely the sauce. It gives the dish a unique freshness, and tastes divine as it melts over the warm vegetables.

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