Teriyaki Stir Fry. You see it in classy restaurants and tiny bustling Asian fusion shops in the food court of malls. You are awed by the success of the dish and you are probably intimated by its complexity. In reality however, it is not a difficult dish to master. Luckily, I had the pleasure of attending Julianne Rocco’s cooking demo and watching the seasoned chef cook up close a few weeks ago.
Julianne, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself first?
My name is Julianne Rocco. I am a junior majoring in biology and painting. I am also currently a nutrition intern in Health & Wellness 495 with Professor Sarah Thompson. Since freshman year, I’ve always had an interest in cooking and as a freshman with a meal plan, I thought that I only had to eat the food that was prepared in the Sodexo dining hall, but then I soon came to realize that I could just make my own food and use the dining hall as a kitchen or a grocery store and create meals that were healthier for me and had more of a diversity.
Freshman year two years ago, there really wasn’t much food diversity in the dining hall. There was just pasta, pizza, deli and then whatever the entrée was, which was always questionable. But now they really changed it a lot. They’ve really promoted a lot of healthy options over the years since I was a freshman. Even with all the healthy options, people at this school are still struggling to decide what to eat because they don’t really know what’s in the food. That’s why I want to teach students how to cook because I love cooking, and I love teaching. So it kind of makes sense to cook and teach.
When did you realize you were interested in cooking?
I realized I was interested in cooking probably my whole life. I love watching cooking shows and the food network. Also, I loved helping my mom cook dinners.
Why do you love to cook?
I love cooking because I’m creating something. I know exactly what goes into the food I eat and I’m doing something that makes others happy. Being productive with a purpose is important to me.
What is your favorite type of dish?
I love anything Italian. I do love cheese, even though I recently found out I’m lactose intolerant. So now I just create more vegan versions of food because vegan food is actually really good, but people just kind of pass it off cause people aren’t used to it.
What is one cooking technique that you wished more people knew about?
Steaming vegetables or baking chicken or steak. A lot of people think you have to fry everything because it seems to be the fastest way out. But steaming, you can actually just use the microwave for it You don’t even need to leave your dorm room for it because you can just put some water in a bowl and some vegetables. Put a wet paper towel over it and steam your vegetables in the microwave for 30 seconds.
For someone who just started cooking, what advice would you give to him/her?
Don’t be afraid. Try new things. Trial and error is honestly the only way you can succeed. I started out, not really knowing how to cook things really well, but now I’m pretty good at it and chefs are even complimenting my food. The Iron Chef competition definitely helped me a lot. I’ve had to include chocolate into meatballs. It sounds pretty weird but apparently it tastes good because I won that competition. So don’t be afraid to try new things and play around with ingredients! And definitely have a plan B. Worst case scenario, your food is going to suck and be gross and you will wind up throwing it away, but then, you know, you can always have a sandwich you can rely on after you experiment.
Stir Fry with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1-2 servings
From the International Station:
1 cup chicken/beef/tofu (diced in cubes)
1 cup cooked brown rice
From the Salad Bar Station: Fill an entire cup with vegetables
Peppers (all colors)
1 dressing cup of cashews (optional)
From the Sushi Bar:
4 Soy Sauce packets
1 Ginger packet
½ dressing cup brown sugar (usually by oatmeal station)
1. Put on a large heated sauce pan with a light covering of soy sauce (2 packets per serving of chicken) and diced onions. Some of the soy sauce will burn off. Sauté protein in pan, with a few pinches of each seasoning for added flavor for about 5 minutes or until the chicken gets warm.
2. Place the precut and cleaned vegetables into a steamer for about 15 minutes, until they become soft.
If a steamer/pot option is unavailable, you can place the vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl with a small amount of water, place a wet paper towel over it and microwave it for about 2 minutes until the vegetables become soft. The purpose is to retain the nutrients in the vegetables that are commonly lost through boiling and frying.
3. Make your own teriyaki sauce by heating a small pot and adding 2 packets of soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger (minced), and some garlic powder, and bring it to a simmer.
4. Drain vegetables of water and mix into the large saucepan with sautéed protein. Add cashews if desired. Stir ingredients and pour teriyaki sauce over mixture.
5. Serve teriyaki protein and vegetables over a bed of brown rice and enjoy!
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