A good stir fry is an important addition to a home cooking repertoire. With a versatile basic recipe it’s possible to take advantage of seasonally available produce and weekly bargains on meat. With only a few tablespoons of oil they can also be low in fat.
Chicken, pork and beef can be dry and chewy in home stir fries, even when they’ve been marinated for a lengthy time. The classic Chinese method to achieve that tender result we love in Chinese restaurant dishes involves a two step cooking process called “velveting”. An easier (and less messy) method is to pound the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap with a meat tenderizer mallet to a ½ inch thickness before slicing it into bite sized pieces. This also reduces the marinating time to about 5 minutes.
This entire dish can be put together and ready to serve in the time it takes to cook the rice that goes so well with it (Asian style egg noodles are also very good). It’s excellent just as it is but add-ins such as snow peas, cashews, broccoli, baby corn, mushrooms, hot chile paste, fermented black beans and so on, transform it into any number of familiar Chinese restaurant menu standards. This recipe is a basic starting point for a number of Thai stir fries as well when fish sauce is substituted for the soy sauce and herbs like lemon grass or Thai basil are added.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
few drops sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
3 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3-4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying (peanut, canola or vegetable)
Pound the chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap with a meat tenderizer mallet till an even ½ inch thickness. Slice into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl. Add the soy sauce and sherry and mix to combine. Set aside.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a cup and stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch, set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium hot large saute pan or wok until hot. Add the garlic, ginger and green onions and stir quickly for a minute just till fragrant. Add the chicken pieces and continue to stir fry over medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.
Stir the sauce ingredients a final time then add all at once to the chicken and cook till thickened, about 1 minute. Serve tight away with plain rice and steamed vegetables. Makes 4-6 servings.
(Note: this recipe makes a dish that has a small amount of sauce that glazes the meat nicely, but if you wish to make a dish with a larger amount of sauce add ½ to ¾ cup of chicken broth and increase the cornstarch to 1 teaspoon for the sauce ingredients)