Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Broccoli with Garlic Sauce

Lo Mein, Chow Fun, Moo Shu, General Tso, Fried Rice, Hot and Sour Soup, spring rolls...Ahhh!  I love the Americanized Chinese fast food!  Sweet and savory sauces over crisp vegetables - I get hungry just thinking about it.

However, it really doesn't like me.  Headaches and bloating always seem to follow a take-out meal from a Chinese food joint.  And sometimes it all starts during the meal (ever need to loosen your pants during a meal even though your portions are small?  Yeah.  That kind of bloating.).  Then, of course, there's the problem of being hungry again about an hour later. So why was this style of fast food the hardest for us to give up?

Because it tasted the best. Because it was fast.  Because it was the only take-out I can think of where a hefty portion of vegetables were included in the meal.  Because there was always a ton of food for not a lot of money.  And because it wasn't pizza...again.

Let's face it; we like the sweetness of the sauces because the corn syrup hits our blood stream and shoots right to our brains.  And the MSG heightens all of the flavors in much the same manner so we just want to eat everything on the table in a crazy hurry because it just tastes so darn good.  At least, that was the problem for me.  I'm sure there are more issues with ingredients (not the least of which are quality and origin), but those two seem to be the triggers for me.

So, in an effort to try to avoid all of those nasties, I've been trying for years to reproduce the dishes we like best at home.  But it's hard to compete with those ingredients.  And I'm not Chinese, so I have no family recipes handed down to me to help me understand how this cuisine is created (and I doubt they'd taste the same as the American Chinese food, anyway).  Yes, I can follow a cookbook recipe, but they just don't compare to the Chinese restaurant versions of the same dishes.  What's an Irish-German-Swedish-French-American gal supposed to do?

Trial and error.  Lots of trial and error.  A bunch of sog and a bit of crunch, all with crappy sauces.

But finally, finally I was able to create a Broccoli with Garlic Sauce (my personal favorite) that my whole family loves.  And guess what - they like it better than the Chinese joint's Broccoli with Garlic Sauce!  And I do, too; it has a ton of flavor, and I feel good about all of the ingredients.  Win!

With regards to the recipe, you can choose to saute the garlic with the vegetables if you'd like, but I like it best in the sauce because it tends to burn for me otherwise.  The place from where we used to like to order uses mushrooms, water chestnuts, and celery in theirs, so if you like those things, go ahead and add them if you'd like (I don't); if you keep the total combined additions to equal about one cup, you won't need extra sauce. To make the sauce, I like to put everything into a large measuring cup.  After adding the broth, each liquid addition raises the next level by how much you put into the cup, so there is no need to measure again (just be sure to add the garlic and ginger last).  Also, it's easy to prep the veggies and the sauce ahead of time and store it separately in the fridge until you're ready to use it, which makes for a super fast and easy dinner (aside from the time it takes to make the rice).

Broccoli with Garlic Sauce
serves 4
  • 1 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c organic tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1/4 c raw honey
  • 1 head garlic (about 10-14 cloves), peeled and minced
  • 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending upon how hot you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs non-GMO cornstarch, such as Rumford
  • 4c broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 c red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks 
  • 1 c pea pods or asparagus, seasonal (cut asparagus into 2-inch chunks)
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4-5 green onions, sliced into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1-3 Tbs quality canola oil, or other quality high-heat oil of your choice
  • 2 cups hot cooked brown rice 
  • 4-6 Tbs chopped peanuts, optional
In a large measuring cup or small bowl, mix together the broth, tamari, honey, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and cornstarch.  Set aside.

Combine the broccoli, bell pepper, pea pods or asaparagus, carrot and green onions in a large bowl.

Heat wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Pour 1 Tbs oil into wok or skillet, then quickly begin to saute the vegetables in batches for about 2-3 minutes, adding 1 Tbs more oil for each new batch.

Replace all the vegetables to the wok or pan.  Stir the broth mixture well and pour it over the vegetables.  Stir to incorporate and simmer uncovered for 3-5 minutes or until sauce thickens and vegetables are just tender.

Serve over hot cooked brown rice. Top with chopped peanuts, if desired.

This recipe has been shared on the Recipe Lion Favorite Spring Recipes Blog Hop!
blog hop button March Blog Hop: Favorite Spring Recipes and Giveaway  


  1. This recipe look great! I would love it if you linked up this post to my springtime recipes blog hop for a chance to win a "Top Chef" cookbook: http://ow.ly/9Lmwj


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