Quick and Easy Chicken Stir Fry

A super easy and quick way to get in a healthy meal is to do a stir fry. This is another non-recipe recipe. Well, it’s sort of a non-recipe; the sauce has measurements, but everything else is completely interchangeable. 

And technically, the sauce can just be a bunch of things thrown together too. That’s how I ended up with this one. Or even store bought.

A little background: Stir frying is a Chinese cooking technique where the ingredients are cooked in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok. If you don’t have a wok, that’s fine; you can accomplish the same end result in a skillet. A wok is nice to use because it’s shape lends itself well to high-heat cooking. The smaller area at the bottom produces a hot area to allow the food to sear and then the food can be pushed up the sides to continue cooking at slower rate while more food is added to the hot bottom. The high-heat cooking helps the ingredients to retain their color, texture, and nutritional value. This style of cooking dates back to the Ming dynasty. At the time, wood and charcoal used to fire stoves was expensive, so the stir fry method allowed people to cook quickly without wasting fuel. By the early 1900s, most Chinese kitchens were equipped with wok ranges.

Stir frying was brought to the US by Chinese immigrants around 1820. In 1945, a cookbook called How to Cook and Eat in Chinese was written by Buwei Yang Chao and introduced the term “stir fry” which is a rough translation of the Chinese term for the technique “ch’ao”. By the 1970s, stir frys were widely popular since they were healthy and quick, allowing families with busy schedules to still have a family dinner.

And that leaves us where we are today. I think stir frying is a method that most people use, especially when trying to get a quick meal on the table. And who isn’t trying for that?

You can use any sort of meat you want, or make it vegetarian. You can use any sort of veggie you want. You can use vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil. You can add any herbs and spices that your heart desires. You can add a sauce or don’t add a sauce. The possibilities are quite endless.

For this stir fry, I used 1 pound of chicken cutlets because they are thin and cook quickly. I used the veggies I had on hand, which were leeks, purple onions, bell peppers (red, orange, and yellow), carrots, collard greens, and broccoli. I would have added zucchini too, but I completely forgot I had one. I also added a lot of garlic. Just try to make sure everything is roughly the same size.


I started with some oil in the pan and let it get hot. I added my carrots first because those take longer to get soft. After a few minutes, I add the rest of the veggies. When they were almost soft, I added the garlic and some salt. Once all the veggies were pretty much cooked, I pushed them up the side of the wok and added a little more oil and the chicken, which I had cut into small pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. 


Cook until done and then mix the veggies back in. If you are using a skillet instead of a wok and don’t have the space to move the veggies to the side, you can remove them to a plate and add them back in when the chicken is done.

While the chicken is cooking, mix up your sauce. There are probably hundreds of stir fry sauces available, but this is what I just randomly put together and it was yummy:

¼ cup coconut aminos (you can use reduced sodium soy sauce if you’d rather, but the aminos add another layer of healthy ingredients)

A small splash of fish sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

A splash of lime juice

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon or so of cornstarch

Whisk together and when ready, add to the stir fry. Let it come to a boil and it will start to thicken up.

 

Serve over rice, preferably brown rice.

Start to finish, this is a very fast meal. The cooking part is especially quick, so I highly recommend having all the ingredients cut up before you begin.

 

Advertisements

Thai Peanut Chicken Stir Fry 

So, here’s my thing about Thai food: it makes me nervous. For some reason, I never think I’m going to like it, but I always do. It’s weird, but it’s just one of those things.My first ever experience with Thai flavors was the Thai Chicken Pizza at California Pizza Kitchen. I know that is in no way actual Thai food, hence why I referred to it as Thai Flavors. For some reason, my senior year AP Biology teacher got us CPK for the class. Maybe it was after the AP test? I don’t really remember, but what I do remember is my friend Joey ordered the Thai Chicken Pizza and let me have some. It was so yummy and to this day, that’s what I get whenever I go to CPK.

Fast forward many years later, when my friend Bon took my husband and me to a place called Wild Thai. That was the only time I’d ever had actual Thai food. He ordered us chicken penang curry (I think I spelled that right) and it was absolutely delicious. We went back a few times after that.

I don’t eat Thai or make it often (though I did a really delicious shrimp dish on this very blog), but I do love the flavor combinations. The sweet and spicy, salty and citrusy. Thai cuisine really does have a great flavor profile.

I found this recipe in my Vitamix cookbook. Have I not sung the praises of Vitamix enough? I love it almost as much as my slow cooker…

Anyway, it is very easy to throw together, is actually quite healthy, and can be altered to your liking. I used chicken, but you could probably use shrimp, and you could put all different kinds of veggies in it. You could probably put only veggies in it and it would be delicious as a vegetarian option as well.

I added more vegetables than the recipe calls for. Also, according to my husband, it could have used more spice, but he has an unnatural tolerance for spice. I thought it was perfect, but you could probably add more jalapeno or even hot sauce at the end if you want. I even had my kids give it a try and they liked it, so who’s going to say no to that?

The recipe also says to serve over rice, but I served it over those spinach noodles I made. To each his own.

Recipe from the Vitamix Cookbook

16 oz can coconut milk
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
1 cup cocktail peanuts
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in small cubes
1 bell pepper, cut into small pieces
Any other veggies you want
cooked rice or pasta for serving

In a blender (I forgot to take pictures of the blender, but I’m sure you’ll get it just fine), add the coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, jalapeno, and peanuts. Blend until smooth. (If using the Vitamix, set to Smoothie program and let finish).

Chop your veggies and chicken.

Put the vegetable oil in a hot skillet and add the chicken. When almost cooked through, add the veggies and saute until soft.

Add about a cup of sauce to the pan and let simmer to warm through.

Serve with rice or noodles. You can add more sauce and chopped peanuts to the top.


This is really, really good!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to heat up some leftovers!

Dish #3: Lomo Saltado (Peru)

I actually hesitated about doing this dish because theoretically this blog is about me trying new things and I’ve had this many times before. But it’s also just about exploring and introducing all 5 of you reading this to new cuisines.

I was first introduced to Lomo Saltado from a food truck that used to come to my husband’s old office. I liked it so much I had to learn how to make it myself.

Lomo Saltado comes from Peru and is part of the chifa influence of the country’s cuisine. A large influx of Chinese people immigrated from the southern region of China to Peru (mainly Lima) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Naturally, the cuisines merged and today Chinese-Peruvian food is some of the most popular dishes in the country.

Here is my take on Lomo Saltado, which I must say, my husband requested seconds of, which always makes me happy.

1 lb beef steak (whatever cut you like) cut into thin strips, about 1/8″ to 1/4″
Half an onion, thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-3 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tablespoon cumin
White rice
Frozen French fries (or you can be fancy-schmancy and make them from scratch)

In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients.

IMG_1415.JPG

Heat vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add meat mixture. The meat will cook pretty quickly, so make sure the rest of the dish (rice and potatoes/fries) is ready to go.

IMG_1416.JPG

Once the meat and onions are almost done, add the tomatoes. Do this last so they don’t get mushy.

IMG_1419.JPG

Serve the meat and with the fries over rice. Spoon some of the sauce the meat simmered in over the dish. Enjoy!

IMG_1420.JPG

There is an optional green sauce you can serve it with too. I’m not sure how traditional it is, but the food truck made it and it was delish!

IMG_1417.JPG

In a food processor, combine cilantro (to taste, I don’t like cilantro, so I didn’t use much), 1 seeded jalapeño, 1/2 an avocado, and 4oz of sour cream.

IMG_1418.JPG

I hope you like it!!