Welcome to Fancy Fridays! Today’s recipe is easy enough but is delicious enough to be passed off as fancy.
I’ve become a little obsessed with Rouxbe, an online cooking school I’ve found. It’s through Rouxbe that I came across this fantastic stir-fry recipe.
The recipe itself called for broccoli, which is not a favorite in our house, so I used red and green peppers, snow peas and celery instead. Truly, you can use whatever veggies you find delicious, just be sure that crispier vegetables are cooked first.
The recipe is really “just” a stir fry — stir fry the chicken, stir fry the vegetables, stir fry everything together. The difference here is that you will “velvet” the chicken to give it a smooth, velvety texture. You then use a couple of clutch special ingredients (oyster sauce, red chili paste, sherry) to mix with the vegetables to give it that maybe-I-secretly-ordered-Chinese-take-out kind of flavor.
That’s really it. I struggled a lot with the actual stir-frying of the chicken because of my impatience with my
baby stainless-steel pan, but that only has to do with my being a novice in the kitchen. The hardest part is forking (heh) over a little cash up front for the special ingredients. Once you do that, though, the dish becomes pretty inexpensive.
1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp + 3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp + 3 tbsp dry sherry (I used the kind found in the baking section)
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek preferred, though I just used the chili paste I could find; found in Asian section of grocery)
1.5 tbsp oyster sauce (found in Asian section of grocery)
1 garlic clove, smashed (NOT minced)
1 slice ginger
1/3 cup almonds
veggies of choice, cut and prepared for stir fry
1.) “Velvet” the chicken – Place bite-sized pieces of chicken in medium bowl. Mix the cornstarch, soy sauce, sherry and oil in small bowl. Pour over the chicken and stir to evenly coat. Set it aside, while you make the sauce.
2.) Make the sauce – Combine the chili paste/sambal, oyster sauce, soy sauce and sherry in a small bowl.
3.) Infuse oil with ginger and garlic – Heat pan/wok. Once hot, add oil and then ginger and garlic. Remove ginger and garlic after a few seconds.
4.) Stir fry the chicken. You will generally need to do two batches of chicken, as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Separate pieces that are stuck together and let sit for a bit before tossing. Cook until golden and just done.
5.) Stir fry veggies – put veggies in the pan/wok and cook. Cooking time depends on the type of veggies you choose. Carrots = longer. Add the sauce from step 2, then cook until vegetables are done. Add chicken and almonds. Finally, add the green onion and toss. Cook until everything is heated through.
Helpful Hints: A properly heated pan or wok is essential for this and is something that I’m still working on! I use a stainless steel skillet for now (we have an electric range and woks are designed for gas ranges), so my temperature is going to be a little lower. I’ve heard chef pans work well, too, for electric stove tops. Also, let the chicken sit a bit in the wok/pan before tossing. The chicken needs time to develop a crust.