Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken Stir Fry

Growing up, I don't believe I ever even heard of a "stir fry". My mother never made stir fry, but she did make what she called Pepper Steak. Basically, it was a cheaper grade of steak, sauteed in a little oil -- Wesson Vegetable, I am certain -- with green peppers, onions, celery and lots of soy sauce. She would pour 2 - 3 cups of beef bouillon over this, added in some salt and pepper, and let it cook for at least an hour, over low heat. Closer to dinner time, she made some rice -- always Uncle Ben's Converted, don't ask me why -- and thickened up the broth with a teaspoon or two of cornstarch mixed with 2/3 cup of water. She said the cornstarch would make the broth smooth, no lumps, and she was right. That was the extent of "Chinese" cooking in our house. Tasty, but not too exciting, it seems like comfort food to me, now that I am the grown up. Since we lived in lots of different places, and spent 3 years in Germany, there was not always take-out food available to us, and I guess she figured it out the best that she could!

However, I digress. Stir fry is an easy way to get your vegetables and use up a leftover chicken breast or two. I like to marinate the chicken for for some added flavor. My family likes things spicy so I am always looking for easy ways to "kick it up a notch"! Try my way the first time you make this, and then do it YOUR way. A stir fry is easy, good for you and tasty...plus you get to eat all your vegetables in one meal! Let me say, however, that in my opinion, a good stir fry ALWAYS has onions, garlic, celery and bean sprouts. The other veggies can be anything you want or like, but I've always got to have those basic elements.

Chicken Stir Fry For Four

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Marinated in:

1 tsp. Chinese mustard powder

1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder

2 T. soy sauce

2 T. fish sauce

1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

Get your rice going: the ratio is always 2 to 1-- that is two cups water, brought to a boil, add in one cup of rice, turn it down and cover it, cook for 16+ minutes until the water is absorbed and you will have 3 cups of rice.

Next prepare your vegetables, chopping everything and slicing it up before you start:

1 medium onion, sliced

2 - 3 sliced garlic cloves

3 ribs celery, cleaned and sliced on the diagonal

1 - 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped

1/2 c. green pepper, cut in matchsticks OR 1/2 c. shredded carrot

1 c. chopped broccoli

1 c. bean sprouts

Peanut Oil for the stir frying

salt and pepper

a little more soy sauce

1 cup chicken broth

2 - 3 tsp. cornstarch mixed with about 1/2 cup water

Get your pan screaming hot. I use a wok, but any heavy bottomed, large frying pan will work, as long as it has fairly deep sides. Pour a little peanut oil over the bottom and and add in your chicken. Stir that rapidly until it begins to brown and turn opaque. Remove your chicken to a clean bowl (NOT the bowl you had the marinade in -- cross contamination!!) and begin to stir fry your veggies, starting with the heavier ones, like onions, peppers, broccoli and celery. Never overload your pan, always make sure you have room for things to cook and stir around. Remove and add in more as you need too. Don't add the bean sprouts until the very last thing, as they are tender and don't take long to cook. When you've cooked it all up, put it ALL back into the pan, and pour over the chicken broth, a few more T. of soy sauce and lastly the corn starch and water combination. Bring this mixture to a boil, and let it cook through over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Voila, stir fry.....serve over rice.

Don't forget to pass the Sirachi Sauce and crispy rice noodles! Pick up some egg rolls or spring rolls -- it's almost a party! Stir fry at home is tasty and good for you!

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