Stir-Fried Quinoa with Chinese Vegetables

To be honest, I never heard of quinoa (pronounced: keen-wah) before my Celiac diagnosis. After my initial consultation with a dietitian, 10 years ago, I discovered a whole new whole of (pseudo-cereal) grains that are gluten-free: quinoa, millet, buckwheat, teff, and so many others. They all have unique texture and taste as well as power-packed with nutrients. Quinoa has become one of my standbys. Quinoa is an ancient, super-food from South America. It contains about 14% protein and all of the essential amino acids your body needs, i.e, it is a complete protein. Important tip with quinoa: it must be RINSED well with water (using a fine mesh sieve/strainer) before cooking it. There's this weird smelling enzyme that coats it and can be strong and wreck your senses. It is so worth the effort.

I make quinoa up as pilafs, tabbouleh, steamed. This time, I let my fridge dictate what method to use for my quinoa love. I saw small bok choy, giant shiitake mushrooms, and green onions. I worked at a Chinese restaurant for 10 years and still influences how I shop for (shopping at Asian markets regularly) and cook my food. Yes, why not - stir-fried quinoa?! It's like the new Chinese Peruvian fusion cuisine that's becoming so hot: the Chinese immigrants from the 19th century influencing traditional Peruvian food. It worked! Such a different take on "fried rice" that feels new, healthy, interesting, reinvented. This recipe is a multi-step recipe and it's important to follow the directions in the right order for the best results. Even though this is a side dish, I will contest that this dish can stand on its own.

1 cup quinoa (rinsed well with water as mentioned above)
1 1/2 cups water or broth (of your choice)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon of coconut or vegetable oil (not olive oil, it will burn)
4-5 large shiitake sliced mushrooms (fresh! or regular fresh button type)
1/4 cup of Chinese cooking wine (I like the sweet kind with this)
1 medium bok choy, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 stalks green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon chili sauce
about 1/4 cup of extra liquid as needed (water, broth)
salt and pepper to taste (yes, you can add soy sauce if you feel it is truly necessary)
extra sesame oil to finish as desired

  1. Cook the rinsed quinoa in 1 1/2 times the volume of water in a covered medium saucepan over low heat until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove lid, fluff with fork and allow to cool uncovered.
  2. Heat up wok on medium high heat. Scramble egg with a splash of water, a pinch of salt, white pepper (if you have it) in a small bowl or cup with a fork. Put sesame oil in hot wok, swirl. Pour in egg, swirl and cook it as a thin layer without getting brown. Turn over once until just barely cooked. Cut heat. Cut into small strips/pieces and put in a cool bowl/plate and put aside.
  3. In that same wok heat up the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add in sliced mushrooms and saute. Add in the wine, stirring constantly. Allow to get a good brown to them - good flavor. Add in the white parts of the bok choy, green onions, garlic, and chili sauce. Saute until those are slightly cooked down. Then add in the green sections of the bok choy and green onions with stirring. Once wilted, add in the quinoa. Stir, stir, stir. Add in liquid as needed if too dry. Trust your judgement. Taste for seasoning. Adjust salt, pepper, heat per your preferences. Cut the heat. Add in the scrambled egg and toss. Toss in a little sesame oil. Enjoy. Serves 4 healthy portions.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The spring food we're focusing on here are  "grains." On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides. Here are other delicious recipes to tempt you to expand your grain horizons:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Chinese Shrimp Fried Rice
Devour: Farro Salad With Greek Yogurt
Dishin & Dishes: Kale, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
The Cultural Dish: Lemon Risotto