Category Archives: Chicken

So what’s for dinner?

Salad, apparently…

Before I would’ve thought that eating rabbit food for dinner is sad. I mean, why eat that when you can have gooey, cheesy pasta; homey, comforting dumplings; sweet, tender scallops; spicy, piquant noodles?

I like salad. I like it for lunch, as a side, as a snack. Generally I don’t think much about salad, I just eat it. For my health. But it’s often too boring to think about.

I wouldn’t mind thinking about it though, if all salads came with a juicy, garlicky piece of chicken smothered in honey mustard dressing.

And served with a big hunk of homemade crusty bread slathered with butter.

I wouldn’t mind thinking about that at all. For my health, of course.

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Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Carrots

Here is a fairly classic stir-fry combination, at least around my house. You get kind of a tri-colour effect, green-orange-white, which is very eye appealing. The key here is to marinate the chicken briefly with cornstarch added to incorporate flavour and to promote tenderness. If you just slice and fry, the chicken breast will dry out.

Another very important thing is to fry the chicken first, then the vegetables, then add the chicken back to the wok. This prevents the chicken from becoming overcooked.

I used about one tablespoon of a Korean sweet chili sauce. It’s not enough to get a discernible increase in the heat of the dish, but it does give an anonymous sweetness and very very subtle kick to the dish. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t have the ingredient.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Carrots
serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as part of a multi-course meal

1 lb. chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine
generous pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 crown broccoli, broken into florets
2 medium carrots, cut on a bias into slices
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 green onions, sliced
3 Tbsp. oil, divided
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
1 Tbsp. Korean chili sauce, optional
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix together the chicken, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and corn starch with your fingers. Set aside for 15 minutes, while you chop the vegetables.
  2. Heat a wok on medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. oil when hot. Add the peppercorns and toast for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  4. Add the chicken, stir-fry until cooked, about 5 minutes. Be sure to separate all the pieces. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  5. Reheat the wok with the remaining Tbsp. oil. Add the chili sauce and fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the broccoli and carrots, toss in a couple Tbsp. cold water. Stir well and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes and stir again. Continue to add little bits of water and covering the wok until vegetables are cooked crisp tender. Salt to taste.
  7. Add the chicken back to the wok and stir together. Heat 2-3 minutes until all is heated through. Serve with rice.

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My Stir-Fry Truths

If you’ve ever made a stir-fry, you know that it’s easy and quick and has great potential to be healthy. There are a few things, if applied, will make your stir-fries better. Or at least they did mine. These are my personal stir-fry truths, learned by hanging out with my mom in the kitchen over the years, as well as cooking on my own.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use a non-stick wok. Yes, I know, it goes against most stir-fry advice out there. And it is true that stainless steel holds a high heat than nonstick. I’m not arguing with that. But for most everyday uses, you don’t need super high heat anyways. As a bonus, it makes clean up so much easier. (Ever scrubbed that stubborn layer of
    “fried-on” rice?)
  2. Do use a wok though. It makes the stirring part of the stir-fry easier.
  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try out new combinations of meats and vegetables and aromatics. You never know what tastes good to you until you’ve tasted it.
  4. But do learn the classic combinations. They don’t fail. Try garlic broccoli, celery with dried shrimp, tofu with Chinese cabbage, eggplant in fish sauce (which has nothing to do with fish), etc.
  5. Use aromatics! Very important! They go a long way to flavouring your dishes! Green onions go with almost everything. Ginger is good with meats and seafoods – it removes the unwanted “fishiness” or “xing” as Chinese people know it. Garlic is a wonder and your gift to a stir-fry, makes everything tastier. (And good for you too!)
  6. Heat the oil until hot, so hot that foods sizzle and spatter and spit. Just keep your face and arms out of the way. (The add oil to hot pan rule applies here too.)
  7. Go easy on the oil, a couple tablespoons or less is plenty for vegetables. Meats require a tad bit more. Make it healthy! You will be happier too.
  8. Cook the meat and veggies separately in most cases. This avoids overcooking either.
  9. Don’t be afraid to add a little bit of water if foods are burning. China doesn’t have conveniently packaged chicken stock when my mom learned to cook so I didn’t learn to use it either. I find that chicken stock sometimes interferes with the flavours because stir-fries typically uses simple flavours. Cover to cook faster if needed.
  10. Go easy on the soy sauce. It doesn’t belong in every dish.

These are the main things that I go by. I hope that they will help you. Stir away! If you prep food ahead of time, i.e. chopping veggies and slicing meats, which come in handy on the nights when you came home late, you can give Rachael Ray a run for her money on the 30 minute dinner!

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Following the Red-Cooked Idea…

I made red-cooked chicken for dinner? See?

I enjoyed it. Very much. Did you have a good day today? I hope you did, but if you didn’t, there’s always red-cooked chicken, and potatoes. It’s the Asian style meat and potatoes. Who said Asians were all vegetarians? We might have been in the process of evolution, but we enjoy meat as much as anyone.

Oh right. I forgot to tell you about potatoes last time I wrote about red-cooked spareribs. This is how you create tender, flavourful, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes. First, make your red-cooked meat of choice, be it chicken, pork, beef, fish, tofu…yeah, tofu is treated as meat over here. Now, after you take your meat out of the wok, add largely diced potatoes to the sticky sweet glaze remaining in the wok, along with some water. Cover it. Let the porous surface of the little cubes suck up every single little bit of flavour in that wok. Turn it every once in a while, add more water if it seems dry. Until it tastes like what I described above. Almost better than the chicken itself. Trust me. Of course, it’s completely optional, you could just dump the glaze on top of the meat, if you wished…but WHY would you do that? When you can have hot little morsels of heaven?

The method of making the chicken is similar to that of the spareribs, except we don’t simmer the meat ahead of time. Just start with the chicken patted dry. Here is how to do it. The red-cooking part that is, not the patting dry part, because I’m sure you don’t need me for that. 😀

Red-Cooked Chicken

1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs, cut into pieces

(note: I used a whole chicken, although the hacking chicken part is definitely not enjoyable. I like having the different parts of the chicken to serve, both dark meat and white meat. It made for a good variation. I love chicken necks, did I tell you that? You might go eww….but it’s surprisingly tasty even though it doesn’t have much meat. It’s okay to look at your computer screen funnily, I’m just quirky like that. But that aside, if you don’t want to go to the hassle of dissecting the bird, you’re very welcome to use thigns or legs, or both. I advise against just breast meat however, at least use a combination of white and dark meat, as white meat simply doesn’t have much flavour.)

3 Tbsp. oil
1/4 cup sugar
3 green onions, chopped, plus more for garnish
5 slices of ginger, minced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
15 Sichuan peppercorns, approximately
4 star anises, broken into parts
3 Tbsp. light soy sauce
2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine
Sesame oil to drizzle over the dish (optional)

Heat up the oil on medium high in a wok. Add the sugar and let it caramelize into a light amber color. Add the chicken. Make sure that it is patted dry to minimize spattering. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, and anise. Toss to coat. Add the soy sauces and rice wine. Toss again, making sure the color is well distributed amongst the pieces. Cover tightly and reduce the heat to medium low. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so, or until the chicken is tender and deep red in color. If you need to add extra water, do so, but only if the wok seems dry. You shouldn’t need it because the chicken releases plenty of liquid on its own, which will reduce to a syrupy glaze.

At this point, you can scrape out the chicken onto a serving platter, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with green onions. Add the cubed potatoes to the remaining glaze in the wok, if you wish, and I don’t see why you wouldn’t wish that :), plus some water, cover and let cook. Stir occasionally until it’s meltingly tender, and all the glaze has been absorbed.

What are you waiting for? Dig in!!!

You can sort of see the potatoes in the corner there. Not really. So I guess you should try to make your own to see what I’m talking about. I also made Spicy Eggplant as an accompaniment. It was fiery and very satisfying. Recipe for another day. 😀

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Easy-Peasy Pasta Supper

Sometimes you don’t want the fancy stuff. No escargots, no lobster cappuccino (it’s rather good), nor turducken (a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey, awesome eh?) can satisfy the inner simpleton in you. Sometimes you just want the good ol’ mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, or a quick pasta supper. No hassle, no dressing up, no empty wallet. This easy pasta dish is just for one of those days. It’s filling, flavourful, and healthy. Tell me what else you want? My firstborn? No I can’t give that to you, but you can have my food, or pictures of my food. 😉

Rainbow Garlic Chicken Pasta
(makes enough for 4, at least, maybe some leftovers too)
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. pepper
a generous pinch of salt
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder

1 lb box of whole wheat spaghetti
2 small zucchinis
1 medium carrot
7-8 white button mushrooms, about 4 oz.
3 green onions
1/3 cup of frozen peas (hey, can’t be easy PEAsy without peas, right? Bad, yes I know)
1/3 cup of frozen corn
half a can of white kidney beans (or any color really, even blue :))
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter (I used a butter spread to cut back on some fat)
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar (or if you are lazy like me, hack off a good chunk of that cheese and just slice into odd shapes, it’s fine, no need to get out the grater)
extra salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

First, dice your chicken, and mix with the herbs and cornstarch and seasonings listed above. Work the mixture through well and set aside while you chop the vegetables.

Slice carrots and mushrooms and the zucchini and the green onions (run-on sentence anyone?). Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dump in the pasta, cook for about 8-9 minutes, or until just before al dente. I’ve found that whole wheat pasta, in addition to packing in some fibre and protein and great nutrients, are more resistant to over cooking. It’s awesome, try it.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil on medium high in a large pan. Stir fry the chicken with the green onions until about half cooked and slightly brown on the outside. Add vegetables, fresh and frozen. When everything is just about cooked, add a little over half a cup of pasta water, ladled out of your boiling pasta. Season to taste. I added extra garlic powder.

When pasta is done, add it to the chicken and vegetables along with the beans. Reduce heat to medium low and toss the pasta until water is mostly absorbed. Stir in the cheese and let it melt. Give it all a good toss. You don’t need much cheese, or any cream at all to make the sauce creamy. The secret is the pasta water. Now eat and be happy about how simple life can be.

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