Cooking with Coach: the weeknight stir fry

Shaun Underwood, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Sometimes you lose track of time or the D.C. just isn’t doing it for you on that particular day. Here is a recipe for those times from music Professor and Director of Choral Activities Dr. Daniel Gee.

The Weeknight Stir Fry:


  • Rice 
  • A protein (i.e. chicken or pork)
  • A vegetable 
  • An onion 
  • Sauce ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar or honey, (opt. cornstarch)
  • A pan and cooking oil 


  1. Start your rice before doing anything else. A $20 rice cooker will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make, perhaps ranked between a high-quality belt and a nose-hair trimmer. I’ve found a cup of rice feeds roughly two sopranos and the square root of 2 basses.
  2. Cut your protein and vegetables into bite-size pieces, of equal amounts. I’ve found boneless chicken thighs work best, though chicken breasts, pork rib meat or even tofu can work just fine. I would suggest bell peppers for the most colorful eating experience, broccoli for the most percussive and zucchini if you got your wisdom teeth pulled over four day. 
  3. I generally cut enough onion so that the ratio of meat-to-vegetable-to-onion is 3-to-3-to-2 depending on how many you wish to feed (for our recipe, let’s say four chicken thighs, two heads of broccoli and half an onion). For your onion, first cut off the top, followed by a cut along the equator and then halving that hemisphere along the prime meridian. From there, continue to cut along longitudinal lines, resulting in moderately thin strips.
  4. Mix your sauce according to taste. For the above amount of ingredients, I would probably eyeball one-third cup soy sauce, a tablespoon of sesame oil, two tablespoons of sugar and two teaspoons of cornstarch for thickening. Make sure your cornstarch is as dissolved as possible to avoid unwelcome blobs later in the cooking process, or life in general.
  5. Heat enough oil to coat your pan to a level where it has a water-like viscosity. Cook your protein and remove from the pan when cooked through. Set aside in a safe place so the aforementioned bass doesn’t eat it before you’re done.
  6. Add and heat more oil to your pan. Vegetables first lead to more even textures, but I personally like onions (garlic for extra credit) first for flavor – just don’t let them sit alone for too long! Keep your heat high and add your vegetables and stir them regularly to evenly cook them.
  7. Add your protein back in (leave out any excess liquid) and mix. Stir in your sauce and make sure the whole pan heats and mixes thoroughly. Serve over rice and audition for choir next semester.

What do you hope your students take away from this recipe? 

I guess I just wanted to share a very practical recipe that is easy to learn and adaptable for students just beginning to learn how to cook. I remember how daunting that was for me when I had to start cooking for myself in an apartment during my sophomore year while doing summer research.

Is there anything that makes this recipe special to you?

If I remember correctly, I think this was one of the first basic recipes my mom taught me when I was first learning to cook.

What is your favorite modification to your recipe if students want to truly test their culinary process? 

I think the first modification would be to add additional aromatics to the recipe, e.g. garlic, ginger and marinade the meat beforehand. Another variation of the sauce is to add black bean garlic sauce that you can get at most asian markets.

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