I’m packing my bags for the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Chicago, where I’ll be doing a demo featuring gluten-free Asian cooking. (This is the first time I’m traveling with knives. Can’t wait to see how that turns out!) When I teach these types of classes, I generally have two goals in mind: teaching people how to make the foods they really miss (pot stickers) and convincing the audience that cooking Asian food at home is actually fun. I know it can seem intimidating, but if you keep a few pantry staples on-hand (wheat-free tamari, sesame oil, chili bean sauce), stir-frying actually defines quick weeknight cooking.
Case in point, this Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-Fry. As with many stir-frys, the prep is threefold: combine the protein (shrimp) with a light marinade (sesame oil, cornstarch, salt), mix together the sauce ingredients (broth, tamari, chili bean sauce), and prepare the vegetables.Once I’ve finished these steps, I like to set out my ingredients on a baking sheet in order of cooking. (Sometimes I even prepare the ingredients in the morning and put the whole baking sheet in the refrigerator until dinner time. Pull it out, ready to cook.) In any case, make sure all your ingredients are ready to go before turning on the heat. Once the first piece of food hits the pan things move fast.
The biggest challenge in cooking Asian food that’s gluten free is procuring the condiments and sauces. One of my favorite ingredients–chili bean paste–often contains wheat. I’ve found multiple gluten-free brands, but you will have to stand in the aisle reading labels. Chili bean paste (also called hot bean sauce) should contain very few ingredients: chiles, soy or black beans, salt, water, vinegar, sesame oil. It’s worth seeking out, as the sauce adds not only spiciness, but a deep rich fermented flavor to you dish. If you can’t find it, I recommend substituting a mix of miso paste (rice based, not barley) and Sriracha sauce.
I stir-fry in a wok (mine is a $20 14-inch carbon steel version), but you could use a frying pan instead. Just make sure your pan is large enough, at least 12 inches, but preferably 14. The biggest mistake in stir-frying is trying to overload the pan. If there’s too much food in the pan, it will steam instead of searing. Need to make larger quantities? Just cook in two batches. And, as always, if you have any questions just send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org Cheers! ~LbR