When we got snow peas in our CSA box our first thought was a stir-fry. I went right to my collection of Cooks Illustrated magazines to study up on the best techniques. I love Cooks Illustrated for this reason - they painstakingly research every aspect of a recipe so I know it's going to be the best. If it's not good, chances are I screwed up somehow and it's not the recipe's fault. So, after reading through a few issues and learning a few pointers and techniques we were ready to make our own stir-fry. They say a non-stick skillet is actually the best for stir-frys, not a wok. They also introduced me to the traditional Chinese technique of velveting chicken -- coating chicken pieces in a cornstartch and egg white or oil mixture then parcooking in moderately heated oil. It really gave the chicken a more authentic texture and flavor. It was moist, juicy and delicious, not dry or overcooked like stir-frys I have made in the past. I worked off the recipe for the velveted chicken, but we used the veggies we wanted. The snow peas were the original basis for the dish. We saw some great eggplant at the farmer's market we thought would match well. When we were at the market we also picked up some baby bok choy, garlic scapes and scallions. Next time I might do either scapes or scallions, but otherwise I think it turned out pretty well.
Gingery Stir-Fried Chicken with Vegtables
from Cooks Illustrated, May/June 2004
for Marinated Velveted Chicken:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (about a 1 1/2 inch piece)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
peanut or vegetable oil
1 recipe of Marinated Velveted Chicken
2 heads of baby bok choy, cut on bias in 1/2 inch strips
1 small eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bunch of garlic scapes (8-10), cut into 1 inch pieces
For Marninated Velveted Chicken:
- Combine soy sauce, sherry and water in medium bowl. Add chicken and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
- Immediately before using mix sesame oil, cornstarch and flour in medium bowl until smooth. toss chicken in cornstarch/flour mixture until evenly coated.
- Whick broth, sherry, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar, pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons ginger in small bowl; set aside. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons ginger, garlic, and 1 teaspoon peanut oil in small bowl; set aside.
- Heat 2 teapoons peanut oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half of chicken to skillet, making sure to not overcrowd the pan. Cook without stirring but separating pieces if needed until gold brown on first side, about 1 minute. Turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, abotu 30 seconds. Transfer chicken to clean plate, repeat with more oil and the rest of chicken.
- Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skillet, heat until just smoking. Add bok choy; stir-fry until crisp tender, remove to clean bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skillet, heat until just smoking. Ad eggplant; stir-fry until browned on all sides, 2-3 mintues. Remove to bowl with bok choy.
- Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skiller, hear until just smoking. Add scapes and scallions; stir-fry until crips-tender. Push to sides of skillet.
- Add garlic/ginger mixture to center of skillet and cook, mashing with a spoon until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir mixture into scallion/scape mixture and cook about 30 seconds longer.
- Stir in bok choy pieces and eggplant, then add chicken back to skillet as well. Whisk sauce to recombine and then add sauce to skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook stiring constantly until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately.