Sunday, May 15, 2011

Veggie Stir-Fry with Chicken & Brown Rice

I've shared this idea before, but it has everything to do with this post, so I'm sharing it again:
As a kid, I used to watch The Frugal Gourmet on TV with my Dad fairly often. I recently read a quote from the chef on the show, Jeff Smith: “Please understand the reason why Chinese vegetables taste so good. It is simple. The Chinese do not cook them, they just threaten them!"
When it comes to anything Asian-ish that involves vegetables, this seems to be the key. Even with Indian dishes like vegetable curry, I find the more al dente versions much more satisfying. So tonight I tried to keep this in mind while I was putting together a super-tasty stir fry.

Of course, the sauce is also of huge importance to the success of your stir fry, so you could say that I sort of cheated. I used a couple tablespoons of plum dipping sauce that I had left over from these fabulous baked egg rolls that I made last week. (I know, there's lots of sugar in it, but I'm careful with sugar so I'm okay with that). I added a drizzle of soy sauce, a little sesame oil, and a tiny splash each of apple cider vinegar and hot chili oil. To thin it out just a tad, I added a splash of water (just a second under the tap) and about 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch. I know, I just said I was trying to thin it out - but the cornstarch will let the sauce evenly coat your veggies before thickening back up into a delicious sauce. Since I didn't really "make" the sauce, I'll leave that bit up to you, and focus on the yummy veggies. We had ours with brown rice, which you'll cook according to the package directions.

3 carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
3 stalks of celery, cut on the bias
1 green or red pepper, or some of each, sliced
1 handful bean sprouts
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (ours came from an extremely well-endowed chicken, so I used just one)

sesame oil
olive oil

1. Heat sesame oil, olive oil and garlic until it just starts to crackle. Add chicken and saute until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Set chicken pieces aside and cover, leaving juices in the pan.
2. Add chopped vegetables, except for the sprouts. Over medium heat, stir-fry the veggies for about 4-5 minutes, or until JUST tender. Test a piece of carrot if you're not sure.
3. Add stir-fry sauce to the veggies, mix in the sprouts, and cook for about one more minute, or just long enough for the sauce to thicken a bit.
4. On each plate, add a scoop of brown rice, and put veggies on top. Then add the chicken, and drizzle remaining hot stir-fry sauce over it. Dinnertime!

You could use shrimp or sliced pork tenderloin instead of chicken, or make it vegetarian by skipping the meat and adding a handful of cashews to your veggies while they're cooking. To be honest, I was surprised at just how juicy the chicken was. In this case I think the sesame oil is the key to keeping thinly-sliced chicken moist and tasty.

Stir-fry is a staple quick, easy, and relatively healthy dinner. With brown rice, you have everything you need. Yes, as a student I have considered making stir-fry veggies with a side of Ramen noodles in the past, but when the cost-per-serving of brown rice is so low, I can't justify all the empty white carbs that Ramen brings to the table. (Get it?) ... (Sorry.)

My only real regret is that I didn't have any ginger, fresh or dry, on hand to add to the sauce. I definitely recommend adding about 1 tsp fresh grated ginger root for a little kick. We both added a little Sriracha at the table.

Quote of the Day: "This country isn't a melting pot. Think of this country as a stir fry. That's what this country should be. A place where people are appreciated for who they are." ~ Jane Elliott 


  1. Ya know what i put in stir fry... pineapple and jalapenos. Sounds weird, taste delicious.

  2. That's a great idea, Whitney! Especially the pineapple... yum.