Southwest Stir-Fry

Southwest Stir-fry

I had a patient a few years ago, an elderly man, who watched me very carefully each time I came into his room to do nursey stuff. I was changing his dressing one day and noticed that he was looking at me intently. Finally he spoke, “How long have you been in this country?”

“Umm…my whole life,” I responded. “I was born here.”

“Where?” he challenged.

“South Carolina,” I answered, wondering where the conversation was going.

He continued to scrutinize me, then asked, “Well, when did your parents immigrate from China?”

I almost burst out into uncontrolled laughter, but reigned myself in at the last second. “My parents aren’t Chinese and neither am I. I’m Caucasian. My dad was a white man from Michigan and my mom is also white and she is from South Carolina.”

The man clearly doubted me. “Well, you look Chinese,” he countered.

I hurried and left his room because the laughter was about to burst out of me. The following day, I had the same man as a patient again. I went into his room and bid him a cheerful “hello”. While I was hanging an antibiotic, I could see that he was intently looking at me again. “Here it comes,” I thought. To my surprise he didn’t say anything, just continued to stare at me as I dispensed his medications.

I handed him his cup of medications and he took the pills, keeping his eyes on my face, calculating. As he swallowed the last of his pills he looked at me and finally spoke. “How’s the economic situation in Mexico?”

There is a distinct possibility that I may have snorted as I worked to keep from laughing out loud. “To tell you the truth,” I responded, “I don’t really follow Mexican economics. I’m a white girl from America and it’s all I can do to keep up with American economics. My mom is white, my dad is white, my ancestors were from Europe, and I’m pretty sure that all of them were white.”

My patient stared at me more intently than ever. “Well, you look Mexican,” he stated.

I gave up at that point. There wasn’t going to be any way to convince this man that I was just a plain ol’ white gal. To him, I suppose, brown hair + brown eyes = not Caucasion.

Okay, so with all of that in mind, let’s get things all mixed up in the kitchen. Let’s take a standard Chinese cooking technique, apply it to some typical stir fry ingredients, but change the flavor profile to reflect a Hispanic influence. Oh, and let’s have a Caucasion chic cook it all up.

If you want to take a shortcut (a.k.a. emergency substitution) a packet of taco seasoning can replace the spices in this stir fry. However, my best advice is to make the effort to use the spices listed. They taste so good together!

Southwest Stir-fry

Southwest Stir-Fry

Recipe by Terri @ that's some good cookin'


  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound flank steak, sliced into thin slices across the grain
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 large purple onion,large chunky dice
  • 1 poblano pepper, large dice
  • 1 large red pepper, large dice
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can baby corn on the cob, cut into 1/3's or 1/4's
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
  • For the Rice
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato bouillon (often found in the Hispanic food section)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, or to taste
  • Suggested Toppings:
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • chopped cilantro


  1. Heat a wok pan or large frying pan over high heat. Add the two tablespoons oil.
  2. Stir fry the beef strips, chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, onion powder, chipotle chile powder, granulated garlic, and salt (to taste) to the hot wok or frying pan. Stir to keep the meat and spices moving around the pan until the meat is just barely cooked through. Don’t overcook.
  3. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Reserve cooking juices and oil remaining in pan.
  4. Immediately add the onions to the pan. Stir fry for 1 minute. As with the meat, stirring to keep the onions moving around the pan.
  5. Add the peppers and garlic. Stir fry for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the baby corn on the cob. Continue to stir fry for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, just until vegetables are crisp tender. Turn down heat to medium low.
  7. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup chicken stock, mixing with fork or small whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  8. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock over the vegetables in the wok and give everything a few stirs. Add the meat back to the wok with the vegetables. Stir quickly to combine.
  9. Pour the cornstarch/chicken stock mixture over the meat and vegetables. Continue stirring and cooking just until the sauce thickens. Turn off heat.
  10. Squeeze the juice of 2 lime wedges over stir fry mixture. Mix lightly to blend. Serve over prepared rice. Suggested toppings: remaining lime wedges, shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro.
  11. For the Rice
  12. Rinse the rice under cool running water until water runs clear.
  13. Place rice, chicken stock, and tomato bouillon in a sauce pot. Stir to blend bouillon. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Place cover on pot and reduce heat to low. Cook rice until done, about 15-20 minutes. Add cilantro and lightly stir together.


Substitution for spices & herbs: A packet (1.5 ounces) of chipotle flavored taco seasoning may be used in place of the herbs and spices.


Southwest Stir-fry How beautiful are these veggies? So colorful. The baby corn on the cob is a really fun addition.

Southwest Stir-fry In a small bowl, mix together the chile powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, onion powder, chipotle chile powder, and garlic powder.

Southwest Stir-fry This flank steak was phenomenally tender and was the perfect piece of beef to use for this dish. I am actually able to get two different meals out of it because of its size.

Southwest Stir-fry The beef should be sliced thin. It will be easier to slice if it is slightly frozen.

Southwest Stir-fry Add the beef slices to the hot wok or frying pan and hot oil.

Southwest Stir-fry Add the spices to the beef.

Southwest Stir-fry Stir fry the beef (0ver high heat). Keep things moving!

Southwest Stir-fry The  beef is beginning to lose its pink color.

Southwest Stir-fry Just as the last of the beef loses its red or pink color, turn off the heat and remove the meat to a plate. Set aside.

Southwest Stir-fry I had fun taking pictures of the steam. So cool.

Southwest Stir-fry After the meat is removed from the wok, there will be a mixture of cooking juices, spices, and some oil remaining in the bottom. Leave these in the wok. Add a little more oil if necessary to cook the vegetables.

Southwest Stir-fry Add the onions to the wok. Stir fry for a minute or two. Again, just as with the meat, keep the onions moving while cooking.

Southwest Stir-fry Add the peppers and garlic to the onions.

Southwest Stir-fry Stir fry for about 2 minutes.

Southwest Stir-fry Add the baby corn on the cob. Stir fry for another minute or two.

Southwest Stir-fry After the vegetables are crisp tender, add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the vegetables.

Southwest Stir-fry Add the meat back to the wok and vegetables.

Southwest Stir-fry Toss everything together.

Southwest Stir-fry Mix 1/4 cup chicken stock and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Pour it over the meat and vegetables.

Southwest Stir-fry Squeeze the juice from two wedges of lime over the stir fry contents.


Southwest Stir-fry Serve over the prepared rice with additional lime wedges, a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, grated cheese, and sour cream, if desired. Happy inhaling.

You may also like:

Beef Brisket for Tacos, Enchiladas and Tosadas {Slow Cooker}
Beef Brisket for Tacos, Enchiladas and Tosadas {Slow Cooker}
Smothered Burritos
Smothered Burritos
Easy Mexican Rice
Easy Mexican Rice


  1. says

    What a fabulous stir fry! Next time my family says Mexican or Chinese for dinner…. I am going to make a Mexicanese dish. :0 )

    Ps… that’s so funny about your patients… Chinese.. Mexican. Being Sri Lankan, I have been mistaken for Spanish, Mexican, Hawaiian, Indian… the list goes on. I have never been asked if I am Sri Lankan… LOL! 🙂

  2. says

    What a funny story! Maybe he needed something for his eyesight along with the antibiotics 🙂

    What a great spin on a stir fry – love it!

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