Friday 21 January 2011

CC Hal's Stirfry Sauce

My cookbooks and I go back so much further than my blog and me. We have shared lots of good times. There are recipes buried in my shelves that were well loved in times of my life. When I saw that the Cookbook Challenge for this fortnight was citrus all I could think was orange and that meant Hal's Stirfry Sauce from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen.

Citrus is not my favourite family of fruit. I hated lemon desserts growing up, wouldn't go near the sour grapefruits that my mum ate for breakfast and I don't eat as many oranges as I should because they are so messy. Every now and again I remember how much I like oranges. I dislike the sourness of most citrus fruit but oranges have a pleasing sweetness. Often when I see lemon in a recipe I can't help but think orange would be preferable.

But back to the cookbooks! When I first went vegetarian, I had a love affair with Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest. We all like cookbooks with lots of glossy pictures but this book has enough charm to be forgiven for lacking any photos (other than of Mollie). Despite the lack of photos, I still think it is one of the most beautifully presented cookbooks, in a hippy kind of way. Mollie Katzen illustrated the cookbook and hand wrote all the recipes. The book is imbued with a love of food.

Even today many years later, I can reel off a list of favourite recipes that are remembered fondly as bringing joy to my newbie vegetarian diet. Mollie Katzen had great ideas, fun recipe names and the recipes worked. Green green lasagne, tofu nut balls, spoonbread, the enchanted broccoli forest and Hal's stirfry sauce. Not only are the recipes inspiring but the book is full of useful advice.

Towards the back is a section on vegetables. It gives advice on chopping and how to enjoy them. If you have the book and haven't looked at this section, I encourage you to read it. At the end of the section is a recipe for Hal's Special Sauce. I tend to call it Hal's Stirfry Sauce because I associate it with stirfries. This is where I learnt to stirfry when I lived in households with woks (those were the days)! Her advice about dividing up vegetables into groups according to how quickly they cook was invaluable and still informs how I cook today.

Once upon a time when I used to make this sauce, I had a hot wok and peanut oil so I could cook the vegetables really really quickly. I would serve the stirfry with the vegetables just cooked, with a slight snap to them. No longer am I so particular. I am happy to just get it on the table.

It is ages since I made this sauce, but I am glad to have been inspired to revisit it. I had a near disaster when in a heavy conversation with E about the dishes and spooned out custard powder instead of cornflour, but luckily checked the label on the container before adding it to the sauce. I also sat down to eat it only to have Sylvia crying in her cot and needing a cuddle. Yes, getting dinner on the table is challenge enough for me. It doesn't have to be perfect.

The sauce seemed exotic as a new vegetarian but now it is a bit less exciting. However the flavours meld beautifully into a tasty, easy sauce. I cooked it with lot of vegetables. The half cabbage took quite some time to cook down before I could begin to add more vegies. I think it took almost half an hour to cook altogether. I also added tofu and hokkien noodles. Maybe I cooked a bit much as the sauce wasn't as intense as I remembered it but it was still delicious and went down well with everyone in my house. I don't know who Hal is but I would love to thank him.

To find out more about the Cookbook Challenge and see what others are cooking, go to my Cookbook Challenge page or checkout the Cookbook Challenge community page.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WHB: Tomato and Peach Relish
This time two years ago: Hot weather, hopeful politics and summer food
This time three years ago: Stuffed Pears - in the swag

Hal's Stirfry Sauce
From The Enchanted Broccoli Forest
serves 4

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp honey (or other sweetener)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger
1 clove fresh garlic, crushed
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp cornflour

Mix all ingredients together except the cornflour. Spoon cornflour into a separate small bowl (or measuring cup in my case) and dissolve with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Stir cornflour into the sauce. Add sauce to stirfry a few minutes before the end. It should thicken slightly once brought to the boil so it coats the vegetables, noodles or whatever you choose to add.

UPDATE: check out my vegan version of Hal's stiry sauce.

On the stereo:
In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003:


  1. Thanks for the gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free sauce! I love adding lemon juice to my food, but have always resisted adding orange juice because of one bad experience. A few years back, I substituted orange juice for lemon juice in one of the dishes, and it ended up tasting really weird. This sauce sounds really interesting though! Perhaps I would change my mind after trying this orange stir-fry sauce:)

  2. That looks great, I love orange based stir fry sauces!

  3. Aha, youre ahead of me now! I still haven't even chosen my citrus week recipe.... oops!

    Funnily enough, I actually can cope with orange juice in savoury dishes like this! Looks great :)

  4. That sauce sounds totally scrummy!!! Bookmarking this recipe. The book sounds like a real find, will see if it is still in publication, I like the sound of it.

  5. I like your story behind the sauce. It's great to rediscover old favorites, isn't it.

  6. Citrus has definitely grown on me over the years as well! Leave it to Molly Katzen to provide for a recipe that uses it to make you swoon. What a delicious way to get in all of your veggies for the day!

  7. I love the Enchanted Broccoli Forest and I used to love this sauce - but I forgot all about it! Thanks for the reminder... I am going to mak estirfry tonight!

  8. I love the look of the sauce - really nice. I quite like citrus, but still don't seem to use very much of it, certainly not in savoury cooking. I'm far more likely to make sweet citrus things.

    I love finding out where your recipes come from, and all the associated memories!

  9. What a great name for a cookbook and your stir fry is making me very hungry!

  10. Thanks Kalya - I substitute orange juice for lemon juice quite a bit but the orange juice is so much sweeter that I guess it does change the flavours - but it doesn't overwhelm this sauce so you might like it

    Thanks K - orange is good in stirfries

    Thanks Hannah - obviously this is the exception that proves the rule with your dislike of orange :-) I did mean to say that the recipe said pineapple juice could be used instead of the orange but obviously you don't need the advice

    Thanks Chele - the book is actually in a new edition that is a bit lighter on the butter and dairy (I think) but is well worth getting - I think the enchanted broccoli forest is better than the companion book the moosewood cookbok but they are both excellent

    Thanks Cakelaw - yes love the old favourites - though making this has made me realised I have changed since I used to make it

    Thanks Joanne - I think I love the book becaues Mollie loves her vegies so much - she writes about them in such a joyful way!

    Thanks Katie - glad to reunite you with a great recipe - enjoy your stirfry

    Thanks C - I don't use enough citrus in cooking - often I only do because an orange has sat in the fruit bowl too long

    Thanks chit chat chomp - I think it is still one of my favourite names for a cookbook - indicative of the wonderful creativity in the book

  11. I finally tried this sauce a few days back, and I think you were right about using orange. It's a natural sweetener, and unlike other stir-frys, I didn't have to add sugar! I substituted honey with agave too, and it was awesome!

  12. Thanks Kayla - glad it worked for - such a simple recipe but so good

  13. I have this cookbook but can't remember seeing this sauce in it! I'll have to look for it and try it out. :) I always tend to overcook my stirfries..


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)