A crunchy stirfry in layers

This is a very, very unscientific and a made-up-on-the-spot recipe that resulted in a meal both nutritious and delicious. It was unintentionally vegetarian; that’s just reflective of what was in my fridge and pantry at the time.

[For the purists’ sake: I know this is not a stirfry in the traditional sense, however some elements are stirred while others are fried and it all comes together with a stirfry-like taste in the end.]

part-way through the meal and everything is dandy

Recipe #70: Layered vegetarian stirfry. Serves 2.

You will need:
► 1 cake of crispy (fried) egg noodles, broken into manageable pieces
► 5 snow peas, trimmed at both ends and halved lengthways
► 10 spiced baby carrots [see Recipe #71, below]
► 1 handful mung bean sprouts
► 2 spring onions, sliced finely on the diagonal
► salt
► olive oil
► 5 small Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced in half
► 1 tsp butter
► 1 small handful of coriander leaves

The sauce:
► 1 tsp sesame oil
► 2 tbsp olive oil
► 1 large clove garlic
► 1 large red chilli, finely sliced
► several scrapings of ginger [across a grater or microplane]
► 1 coriander root
► two grates of nutmeg
► a couple of splashes of dark soy sauce [I did warn you this was unscientific!]
► a good splash of soy [Kikkoman]
► ~2 tbsp mirin [this is rice wine vinegar]
► a good splash of hoisin sauce
► the juice of 1/2 a lime
► 1 heaped tsp palm sugar [or brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar]
► ¾ tsp garam masala

Recipe #71: Spiced baby carrots.

You will need:
► 1 bunch baby carrots [choose the ones with everything attached]
► 2 star anise
► 2 dessert spoonfuls of honey
► a good pinch of salt
► a splash of soy

Begin by trimming the carrots; cut off the wispy tails and trim the leaves, leaving about 0.5cm green at the top of the carrot. Wash the carrots well. Fill a small saucepan with cold water to ~¼ full in preparation for the carrots. Scrape the skin from each carrot with a paring knife, then place in the saucepan > it is important to put the carrots straight into cold water to prevent them from turning brown.

baby carrots

Ensure there is sufficient water in the saucepan to just cover the carrots then place the saucepan on a medium-hot hotplate. Add the other ingredients. Bring the carrots to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes, until the carrots are a brilliant orange and soft without being mushy.

While the carrots are cooking, you can prepare the sauce. Start by dribbling the sesame and olive oils into a small pan. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and toss well. Place the pan onto a medium-hot hotplate. Once the oil starts to sizzle, add the coriander root, nutmeg and dark soy; once this begins to reduce, add the soy, mirin, lime juice, palm sugar and garam masala. Allow to bubble and reduce the blackish sauce for a few minutes, giving the pan a swirl every so often.

For the snow peas, steam the snow peas by placing them in a bowl and pouring over some boiling water. Leave for 1-2 minutes, until the snow peas are bright green, then strain the water from the snow peas.

To cook the spring onions, heat a little olive oil in a small frying pan. When the oil ripples, it is hot enough to add the spring onions with a pinch of salt. Toss the spring onions in the oil for around 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and set aside on a separate plate.

For the mushrooms, place the butter in a small frying pan (you can use the same one as you used for the spring onions). When the butter starts to bubble, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Toss the mushrooms until they are well coated, then cook for a few minutes, tossing every so often.

To serve, begin by placing a few crispy noodles at the bottom of the bowls you intend on serving the stirfry in. Layer over a few bean sprouts and carrots, then some mushrooms, snow peas, spring onions and coriander leaves. Repeat this process until all the ingredients are used, or you have reached desired portion size. Spoon driplets of sauce over the stack and you are ready to eat!

the deliciously crunchy end result

What we were drinking: Bombay Sapphire & tonic; Crowded Hour Barossa Valley Shiraz
What we were listening to: streamed grooves, courtesy of ABC Jazz

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did — and, as always, I would love to hear about your foodly experiences!

H 🙂

Addendum of 10 February 2010: I changed a couple of the quantities up front, which I had listed for a single serve rather than a meal for two.

Note also Steph’s comment to this post, in which she recommends the use of vegetable rather than olive oil, and the addition of sesame oil as an aromatic after cooking has ceased (instead of at the start of the cooking process). [Thank you, Steph!]



  1. Love and follow your blog and in no way is this a criticism, think of it like a helpful hint 🙂
    When cooking Chinese food (even psuedo-Asian) use vegetable oil not olive oil. The flavour is much milder and works with the sauces better. As well as that olive oil doesn’t heat to as high a temperature (which you want!)
    Also, don’t use sesame oil for cooking, use it for seasoning. Add it after the sauce/veges are cooked and the flavour will be much more pronounced and aromatic.


  2. I love these types of recipes, where you just get started and keep cranking away, adding things here and there and having brainwaves as you go, then end up with something delicious. When it also looks as nice as this, that’s a good bonus!

    (the baby carrots make me wish that you could buy bags of washed teeny tiny baby carrots in the supermarkets in Australia… they’re such an easy snack)


    • In response to Conor’s comment, you can purchase these carrots at a few locations in Perth, organic shops are organiconcharles.com.au and Absolutely Organic just off Karrinyup Road Gwelup. Also try Mr Organic at Freo markets open over the weekends.

      I would choose organic carrots over others for three reasons.

      1. They contain less copper and zinc than others. (Rumour I heard)
      2. Obvious one, they have no pesticides which you can really taste
      3. They taste better.

      Hope I was of some help.



  3. Steph – thanks so much for your feedback and helpful tidbits. I did know about the vegetable oil; olive oil was all I had to hand at the time.

    I must confess that I have learned something new with respect to adding the sesame oil after cooking – and I appreciate the hot tip!

    Conor, a pleasure to see you here again. I was superexcited with how my unplanned meal evolved, and I share your sentiment about the baby carrots!

    H 🙂


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