Friday, December 19, 2008



Here's one that's quick and delicious for a weekday, full of good things for you like lowfat chicken breast and plenty of veggies. It's a jump-off from a Washington Post recipe which, as usual, needed a lot of work. The original recipe called for a chunked, seeded cucumber as one of the vegetables, and it's great that way, too, but, as with most Chinese dishes, this is infinitely adaptable to whatever you may have in the fridge, or may appeal to you in the produce aisle on any given day. Those of you who must watch your sodium can feel free to use "lite" soy sauce; I've tried it and find the full-flavor of regular soy more satisfying. I just make sure I take my blood pressure meds that night--so far, so good!

As usual, once you start cooking this, the train leaves the station and dinner is ready in a flash. The most time-consuming part of this type of cooking is the prep.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine, or dry sherry
1 tsp sugar
1 lb. skinned and boned chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks

6 cloves garlic, minced
a knob of fresh ginger, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, peeled and minced
1 cup sugar snap peas, tough strings removed
1 medium onion, peeled, top removed but root end retained
1 large stalk celery, chopped on the bias into bite-size chunks
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thick strips, then strips halved
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cup cashews

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Fresh black pepper

Combine chicken and 3 tablespoons of the soy-sherry-sugar mixture in a plastic bag. Marinate chicken while preparing other ingredients, reserving remaining marinade for sauce.

Cut onions into wedges. They will remain intact because they are attached at the root end. Put in a bowl with the chopped celery.

Combine chopped ginger and garlic in a bowl

Heat 2 tablespoons oil (peanut or vegetable) over highest possible heat in the bottom of a wok or large skillet until the oil is shimmering and just starting to smoke. Remove chicken from marinade and add in a single layer to hot oil. Discard marinade. Let chicken sit for one minute, until some carmelization takes place. Toss to cook other side. When chicken is cooked through, remove to a bowl and set aside. Leave as much oil in the wok as possible.

Still over high heat, add sugar snap peas, allow to sit undisturbed for 30 seconds, then toss another 30 seconds.

Add chopped onion and celery with ginger and garlic. Toss for 1 minute.

Add chopped pepper and scallions, toss for 1 minute.

Add cashews and return chicken and any accumulated juices. Toss for a minute to heat through.

Stir cornstarch into remaining marinade and pour over ingredients in wok. Stir until thickened. If too thick, add more sherry or water.

Add several good turns of the pepper grinder to finished dish. Serve immediately over rice.


Zoey and Me said...

I like the tip "keep the root ends intact" I discovered that little secret a few years ago. Works in many recipes. Last nights stew was another hit. Brad brought over Chicago Hard Rolls and I just added that to the recipe. Was a perfect match, great for soaking up the stew sauce. I'll try this recipe next week, maybe Christmas Eve as we have nothing planned. Thanks for posting it.

Ralph said...

Good idea about the rolls. Tyler Florence splits an Italian loaf and bakes it in the oven for about 20 minutes so it gets a crust, rubs a garlic clove over the toasted bread, and breaks off pieces and puts them in the bowls for the stew. Haven't tried bread with the stew but maybe I will.

The onions in my my pic of the stew are done that way. I couldn't find any frozen pearl onions (and the fresh are too much trouble to deal with) so I did that.

Zoey and Me said...

I use the Itay bread in my French Onion Soup recipe which the kids love so I make it every Christmas Day. I use unfrozen pearl onions and YES, could scream, they take so long to get the skins off. No tricks to doing that? If someone knows a way to get the skins off other than cutting and tearing please pass it along. But for me, the frozen lose some of the kick. Last night I had about 20 pearl onions in the pot and can tell you the more the merrier. I just finished the last leftover for lunch.

Ralph said...

I love the onions, too. The way I learned, and use, is to parboil them for 30 seconds and then plunge them immediately in ice water. Same way I know to peel tomatoes. Cut an X in the bottom of the tomato to help the skin split, then parboil, then shock.) In the case of the onions, the skins (sort of) slip off. It's easier than doing it with no treatment at all, anyway.

Peewit said...

I have two variants of this recipe. One much the same as you outline but I add Oyster Sauce in the marinade and I omit the celery (only in that we don't often have it in the house).

The other is quite different and is more of a favourite with the kids as it has less bits that they shovel to the side of the plate (i.e. the onions, ginger and peppers).

you start by marinating the chopped chicken in an egg white a tsp of salt and a teaspoon of cornflour for 20 mins. You then deep fry the chicken in the wok using 5 fl oz of oil. Once the chicken is white remove & drain in a colander. You can drain off the oil and can reuse it for other chicken dishes.

Reheat a tbsp of oil then stir fry the cashew nuts for a minute then add 2tsp chinese rice wine and 1tbsp light soy sauce. then return the chicken to the pan for 2 mins serve with a garnish of spring onions (also with rice or noodles and a selection of veg). you can also use fresh peanuts (shelled of course) in this

Ralph said...

I like both variations, Peewit. Love oyster sauce and sometimes I throw that in. The recipe you give is pretty close to the one I originally saw in the paper in its simplicity (but it did marinate the chicken to flavor it). I can never stop with just one veg in Chinese cooking!

Nan said...

That looks DELICIOUS.

Cuidado said...

I was reader number 22222.

Ralph said...

Hmmm..that means good luck, right, Cuidado?

Welcome back, if you can call it that, to the cold northland. I read your account of digging your car out at the airport with no hat and gloves with gratitude it wasn't me! Glad the Florida trip was all you hoped.

One Woman's Journey said...

Looking at some of your post.
This recipe similar to what I prepare. Gave me a new idea.
OWJ. You know your music.

Ralph said...

Welcome, OWJ! Thanks for stopping by. I try to do something easy and good to eat on Fridays..hope you'll come back.