Soy-Free Chinese Jicama Stir Fry
1/2 cup Canola Oil (or peanut, if allergies don’t forbid)
1 tbsp. szechuan peppercorns
a few slices of fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves
2 scallions, just the white part

1 small jicama or 3/4 large jicama, peeled and cut into sticks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
8 med-lg. mushrooms (white or crimini), washed, stems removed, sliced

1/4 tsp. salt (NO LESS! Chinese food NEEDS the saltiness, and remember, you’ve already cut down on sodium by not using soy sauce)
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

1/2 cup vegetable stock (or make from vegetable bullion)
1 tsp. mirin
1 tsp. brandy
1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. honey
a touch of salt
1 tsp. cornstarch
(the important measurements here are the VEG STOCK AND CORNSTARCH. proportions of the alcohol and honey etc. are estimated- just add until you’ve created a balance in sauce that you like. This isn’t a lip-smackingly yummy sauce on its own- it is to add depth of flavor to well seasoned vegetables that are already flavorful)

Szechuan oil:
Heat a wok on high and add Szechuan to pan, tossing lightly. Turn heat to low and toast peppercorn lightly, stirring frequently- about a minute and a half. Add the peanut oil and raise heat to medium or medium high, depending on your stove. Once oil begins to bubble lightly (if it ever does), add ginger, and garlic cloves. Lower heat and let cook until the garlic cloves and ginger turns brown. You may want to turn them in the oil to get them brown on both sides. When they are golden brown remove them and discard. Add in the white part of the scallions and let it brown, and then remove it from the oil and discard. You should have nicely flavored oil by now. If you have the patience, let cool and strain into a glass container (with a lid). If you don’t have the patience, strain with heat resistant metal strainer after letting it reach a cooler temperature into a heat resistant metal or glass. You don’t need to clean your wok if you are planning on immediately making this stir fry.

Mix your sauce ingredients in a small bowl and reserve. Add cornstarch last by mixing it with a small amount of the sauce first and then adding it to the sauce.

Take two tablespoons of the flavored oil and heat in your wok over high heat.

Toss in your salt and then, a few seconds later, your fresh minced ginger. As it starts to brown, throw in your jicama sticks. Move them in the wok with cooking chopsticks or other wooden cooking device (I have a wooden paddle thing I’m rather fond of) to allow them to brown evenly and not burn as well as get evenly coated with the yummy oil. After two minutes or so, add in the mushrooms, and then the carrots. You do NOT want to overcook the carrots, so watch them carefully. You want the mushrooms to be nice and soft and melty and the carrots to be crisp tender. Continue moving the food around as needed. When the dish seems ALMOST done, stir your sauce one last time and create a well in the center of the wok. Add the sauce to the center of the wok and then fold in the veggies as it thickens. Make sure the sauce has evenly coated all the veggies and then turn off the heat. Remove from wok and place in serving dish.

If needed, you can add more oil right before you add the mushrooms and carrots, but try to let the oil heat up a little before adding the next ingredients, and keep the jicama away from it on the sides of the wok. You can also experiment with LESS oil, but it adds a lot of flavor and the interest to the dish, so I would try it first with the given amount and then adjust for your own tastes. Steamed veggies are an alternative for the super-health conscious- but I’ve never been keen on them and the goal here is to achieve lip-smacking Chinese restaurant style tastiness without soy or gluten.

You can serve this with rice (white or brown), rice noodles, or even in a summer roll rice paper wrap. Craziness, I know. :)