Even though you can see cute little shrimp pictured in this dish, I have to admit that often when I make it, broccoli is the star of the show, because a) I love a good meatless meal and b) stir-fried broccoli is amazing. Like, addicting amazing. And actually, the broccoli is the star of the show even when I throw in shrimp or chicken.
Something phenomenal happens as the broccoli caramelizes in the hot skillet and is lightly dressed with a silky, flavorful, Asian-inspired sauce. I literally could eat the entire pan full of broccoli. And my kids devour this like no one’s business; usually trying to play the game of “Whoa, Ty, did you see that huge gorilla outside the window???” in an effort to stab their innocent brother’s last piece of broccoli right off his plate. I’d be upset about it if they hadn’t learned that trick from me. (Don’t worry, I make them give it back.)
Adding meat helps stretch the meal a bit but you could easily double the broccoli/sauce ingredients for a completely meatless meal. And I hope you noticed that it is shockingly quick to make (the brown rice will take much longer than the actual stir-fried broccoli so plan for that). Um, let’s see, what else? Oh, I’ve also served this with quinoa instead of brown rice. Delicious. Basmati rice? Fantastic. Or just whipped up as an amazing side dish. Unreal.
I don’t know about you, but I’m craving some serious broccoli after our discussion. I guess there are worse things.
For the Thai chili sauce, you can substitute Asian chili-garlic sauce or hoisin sauce. I've used both before with good results, although the flavor is a bit different. When using meat, I usually cook about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp or chicken pieces lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola or coconut oil
- 3-4 cups bite-size broccoli florets
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce (see note)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Hot, cooked brown rice (using either this baked method or this perfect stovetop method)
- In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat until hot and rippling. If using meat, add it now and stir-fry until cooked through. Remove the meat to a plate.
- Add the broccoli to the hot skillet (you may need to add another teaspoon or so of oil if the skillet is completely dry) and cook, stirring often, until the broccoli has turned bright green and is lightly browned, 7-9 minutes. It won't cook much more after this so it should be crisp-tender. I like a bit of bite to the broccoli but if you want it more tender, add on a few minutes cooking time.
- Stir in the garlic and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring, for a minute or so.
- Whisk together all the sauce ingredients and pour over the broccoli. Add the meat if you cooked it in step 1. Stir the ingredients together until well coated with the sauce and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.
- Serve immediately over hot, cooked rice.
Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe in The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook (basically messed with all the amounts to get it just right for our taste buds)