There are some hot summer nights where I just don’t want to cook. Working a long day in a building with recirculated air, fluorescent lighting, and the politics of people trying to prove that they’re smarter than you can be exhausting. And coming home after an hour long commute via two trains and a bus, where you’re greeted by a cat that throws up on your sneakers (it may be because one of her favorite places to get into is the trash),
does not make me want to stand by a hot stove for an hour. No.
No no no no no.
So is there a solution, besides a week full of salads?
I love salad, but I think Roo would leave me if he had to eat night after night of random vinaigrettes. With that, there’s compromise, and for me, it’s only ten minutes of actual suffering.
I mean, cooking.
My life line is stir fry, and in this case, chicken stir fry. The largest part of work for this dish is prepping the veg. Then it’s throwing everything into a very large saute pan, stirring it around, and before Roo can finish a level of ‘Firefight with skulls on’ (a Halo ref that I hate myself for knowing), it’s time to plate dinner and sit by a box fan that will blow your hair into your mouth as you eat. But more appetizing.
Adapted, only a little, from The Pioneer Woman
Serves four generously
These ingredients are based on what I received from my CSA this week. You could always switch out for what you’d like to have in your stir fry, since that’s the whole point (dump and cook what you have in your fridge).
Leftover rice, or rice made from your rice cooker, or stove top per the bag’s instructions
3 scallions, diced (you could use one medium onion diced here, but I was trying to use up ingredients from my CSA)
3 cloves garlic, minced (I love garlic)
1 knob of ginger, about the size of your thumb, minced (or grated if you’re lazy like me)
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flake (I love spicy, if you’re scared, start with a 1/4 teaspoon)
One pound of broccoli crowns, cut into easily edible pieces
3 carrots, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 bunch of tatsoi (again, from my CSA)
3 Whole Chicken Breasts, sliced into pieces (I like to use kitchen shears and let the pieces fall into a ziploc bag which contained the marinade)
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil (and more to drizzle over chicken)
Three quarters of a cup *low sodium* Soy Sauce (and more to drizzle over chicken) *This is the start of making a LOT of sauce, because I had a lot of veg (and I love extra sauce for my rice). If the idea of 1 cup of soy sauce scares you, half it, along with the sugar, chicken broth, corn starch, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar.**
One quarter of a cup of water (to be mixed with the soy sauce)
6 tablespoons of Sugar (I know, I know, that’s a lot, but less than that and you’ll end up with something quite acrid)
1 cup Chicken Broth, to be divided
3 teaspoons corn starch
2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 – 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (optional, taste your sauce first)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional, some people think it tastes like soap. Haters!)
A very, VERY large saute pan, or a wok
3 small bowls (that can hold up to a cup and a half of liquid)
A very sharp knife
Tongs or a spatula
A grater, if handy
A large ziploc bag, or a large plate for your chicken to hang out on
Another large plate for your chicken to hang out on after cooking
After prepping all your veg, slice up your chicken into a large ziploc bag, or onto a plate. Drizzle a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil onto the chicken. Toss it about so all the chicken is coated. Set aside.
Gather the three small bowls for the wet ingredients. In one bowl, mix three quarters of a cup of soy sauce with a quarter cup of water and 6 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside. In the second bowl, mix half a cup of chicken broth with 3 teaspoons of corn starch. Set aside. In the third bowl, pour the other half cup of chicken broth into it. Set aside.
Place the very VERY large saute pan (or wok) on the burner over high heat (not blasting, but more than a medium flame). Pour in 2 – 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan (enough to coat the bottom). When the oil starts to shimmer, add the chicken. Do not crowd the pan with the chicken. You want an even single layer of meat on the bottom of the pan. If this means you have to work in shifts, so be it. Letting the chicken sit on one side for a minute or two (until browned), flip, and cook for another minute or two. When the chicken has cooked through, remove from the pan and place on a clean plate to hang out while you work on your veg (repeat if you had to cook the chicken in shifts).
Add another tablespoon of olive oil if necessary to the pan (to avoid sticking). Add the green onions and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and the ginger. Stir the ingredients about so that they’re coated with the oil and are sizzling. Start adding in the rest of your veg in shifts. I usually start with the veg that’s going to take the longest to cook and end with the one that takes the least. In this case it was carrots, then broccoli, followed by red peppers and then tatsoi.
When all of the ingredients have cooked through (it takes about three minutes with the carrots, followed by two minutes with the broccoli, then the red peppers, waiting a minute, and then adding the tatsoi, constantly tossing the ingredients with my tongs), it’s time to add the wet ingredients.
Pour in the chicken broth and the soy sauce that’s mixed with sugar. Toss the veg in within the pan so that they’re coated. Drizzle one teaspoon of sesame oil over the sauce. Again, toss.
Add the cooked chicken to the sauce. Add the chicken broth that’s mixed with corn starch. Again, toss everything together.
Now, it’s time to taste. Are you craving something a little bit more acidic? You may want to drizzle a teaspoon to 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar to the sauce. But make sure you taste first! I made the mistake of doing this without tasting and got something horribly acrid once. It was sad.
When the sauce is to your liking, remove the pan from the burner. If you’d like to add your cilantro to your dish, do so on your individual serving (again, be aware of the haters).