Stir fry is something you could eat just about every day, and it’s easy to see why. The choice of ingredients you’ll find ranges from broccoli and carrots to bamboo shoots and coconut, and as a result many stir-fry dishes are laden with vegetables plus a good balance of protein. Cooking methods are flexible for dietary preferences or restrictions (think vegetarian or gluten-free), since ingredients come together quickly in the pan and anything can be omitted. So whether you’re a seafood lover, a meat eater or a die-hard herbavore, you’ll find something to love on our stir-fry list.
The prawns in the firecracker shrimp dish ($14.95) at Chef Lee Chinese are lightly breaded and fried in a spicy sauce with chilies, onions and bell peppers. It’s one of the most popular dishes here, along with the sesame chicken ($11.95), which manager Eric Lee says is a big hit—the sauce is made fresh, and the kitchen sees to it that the chicken comes out crispy and hot. On the milder side, the mixed vegetables with chicken ($10.95) or beef ($11.95) are made for veggie lovers, cooked in a brown sauce with broccoli, bok choy, baby corn, pea pods and mushrooms. (Tofu is available in lieu of the meat.) Quick tip: Takeout prices are slightly under the dine-in prices given above. 1400 County Rd. 101 N. #1; 763.473.2518
Chung King Chili Chicken
The Chung King Chili Chicken ($11) originally gained notoriety at the Bloomington Grand Szechuan, so it’s no wonder Plymouth diners were ordering it right and left once the Plymouth location opened its doors this past summer. Chunks of chicken are fried with no breading, the tossed with bell peppers, onions and chili peppers, which add considerable heat. The appetizer portion of Szechuan dan dan noodles is a steal at just $5, made with ground pork in a sesame sauce and chili oil. For a side dish, try out the Szechuan green beans ($10), stir fried in a mild sauce. If none of this sounds exotic enough for you, don’t worry; you’ll find some other Szechuan classics like pig ears in chili sauce ($11). 187 Cheshire Ln. N.; 763.404.1770
Ever wonder what mayor Kelli Slavik likes to eat? At Ming’s Garden, it’s the empress chicken ($10.25), according to owner Jet Deng, who describes it as a mild chicken dish mixed with broccoli, bok choy, baby corn and mushrooms. If you’ve got a penchant for something spicier, make it the stir fry spicy beef ($11.70), made with fresh beef, white and green onions, and peanuts, a Szechuan-style dish that is popular beyond the palates of our elected officials, too. Vegetarians will go for the stir-fry tofu with veggies ($9), made with a mild brown sauce. 4190 Vinewood Ln. N.; 763.559.3131
Hong Kong-style Crab
Given the choice between ordering Americanized dishes or something more authentic, we’d always take the latter. At Peony’s China Bistro, that means ordering the Hong Kong-style crab, made with Canadian crab and sold at market price. The crab is cleaned out, breaded and deep-fried first. After seasonings and dried peppers are added, it is stir-fried and garnished with garlic. Because of the rub and the cooking method, the flavors make their way to the inside of the crab. The sole fish, also prepared Hong Kong-style, is a cheaper variation on the dish for $12.95. Or for a dish offering subtle, sweet and citrusy flavors, make it the honey walnut shrimp ($12.95), made with lightly breaded shrimp in a honey glaze baked walnuts. Entrees come with soup and salad or, if you prefer, egg rolls or crab rangoons. 4100 Vinewood Ln. N.; 763.519.8888
Beef in Garlic Sauce
Most of the dishes are stir-fried at Tea House, but the beef in garlic sauce, tossed with red and green bell peppers, white and green onion, and black tree mushrooms, tends to be a favorite ($12.95). The chung king chicken ($12.50) offers a smoky heat, with deep fried pieces of chicken, red and green bell pepper, dried chili peppers and a Szechuan hot sauce. 88 Nathan Ln.; 763.544.3422
Maybe you mostly think of udon noodles as being served in soup, but there’s actually a pretty classic Japanese preparation, Yaki Udon, in which they are pre-boiled and stir-fried with veggies. At Kobe Restaurant, those include green and red peppers, baby corn and mushroom. Order with your choice of shrimp ($13) or chicken ($12). 15555 34th Ave. N.; 763.559.9999
Kung Pao Chicken
When you need it fast and affordable, Leeann Chin offers dishes like kung pao chicken for about $6, depending on the plate. It comes with chicken, red pepper, celery, spicy kung pao sauce, water chestnuts and peanuts on top. The cashew chicken is similar, but a little sweeter and with cashews. All dishes come with a choice of white or fried rice, or lo mein noodles. 3235 Vicksburg Ln. N.; 763.553.7761; 4130 Berkshire Ln.; 763.559.8699
--Food editor Tammy Sproule Kaplan is looking for your favorite sliders—those delectable mini-burgers that seem to just melt in your mouth. Email her your tips.