Monday, August 27, 2007

Classic Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry (and minimalism in the kitchen)

I don't own a wok, but every time I see one at any store - from Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma (expensive) to Ikea or Target (affordable) I long for one.

Yet, my inner minimalist denies the purchase. Where will it be stored? Hmm, no cabinet space? No go.

My rule tends to be for large kitchen items - if I use it at least once a week, it can come in, otherwise, stay out. Borrow, make do or whatever, but enjoy the peace of minimal clutter (my kitchen as of tonight):

So...this means I was a bit skeptical about the success of a home-cooked Chinese stir-fry type dish without a wok. But WOW, it was easy, delicious, healthy - it shocked me how great it was. A regular repeat dish with variations is certainly planned.

But I think I can make room for at least a small wok...

Classic Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry:
(serves 4 with rice/noodles, 2 if served alone)

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces and pounded thin
1 small bunch broccoli crowns, cut into small pieces
2 small carrots, peeled and cut on a bias
1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed and separated
1 small bunch green onions, sliced on the diagonal
Small handful Thai red chilies (Chile Japones)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs chopped fresh ginger
Salt and white pepper to taste
Crushed red chili pepper flakes for extra heat (as desired - I always desire)
Olive oil for sauteing
Sake or white wine or sherry or water (for deglazing pan as needed)
Slurry (mixture) of 2 tbs cornstarch, 2 tbs water, 2 tbs soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Steamed rice or noodles for serving

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan or a wok that has been preheated. Next, add aromatics - garlic, ginger and chilies. Keep heat on high the entire time.

Next, add vegetables. Saute, tossing frequently, adding deglazing liquid as needed to avoid burning. Add chicken, then slurry. Toss and continue tossing until chicken is cooked through - reduce heat to medium in the final stages if needed.

Remove from heat, pour onto plate or platter, garnish with chilies or green onions, serve.


Peabody said...

Ha, my little apartment kitchen is beaming with junk, but I couldn't live with out it. I own a wok, but it was a gift, otherwise I do not stir fry enough to have the right to own one.

Anonymous said...

I own wok and I use it more than few times a week, not only for stir frying but for all kind of things... it is one of the most useful things I have in my kitchen. I use Stellar pots, you can take a look at them in my Amazon store.

Greetings, Margot

Deborah said...

I don't own a wok either, so it's good to know that this works without one!

Christy said...

Looks yummy!

I have a wok, it was a wedding gift, and I love it! I have to admit though I don't use it all the time. I go through phases with it and I definitely use it more in the colder months. You have inspired me to pull it out again though :)

lululu said...

Can't deny how helpful a wok is, it's not that perfect to go with an electric stove though. When I was in HK, my family used wok to cook everything above a gas stove. And only Chinese dish can tell you the difference in-between.

Mo said...

I feel the same way about coveted kitchen space. That is precisely why I returned a mandoline last night. I just couldn't justify the space-for use ratio.

Believe it or not, a good wok was the first pan I ever invested in. That might explain why I have such an infinity for Asian foods. ;) I still use it more often than any of the others.

Nora B. said...

Hi Kirsten, I love stir-fries and yours look delicious. Our apartment is kinds of small but we have lots of storage space in the kitchen so I use ANY excuse to get a new kitchen gadget/appliance. :-) The wok I have has a flat base one which I use on an electric stove. Besides stir-fries, I use it to cook other stuff too, like pasta sauce, broiling fish, omelet, scrambled eggs, etc.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

Your kitchen looks so clean, I believe I could eat off the floor!
I don't use a wok, per se, but I do have a large frying pan that is a bit like a wok. Hmmmm...maybe it IS a wok!

Anonymous said...

Looks tasty Kirsten!
How in the world do you keep your countertops so clear?
I don't own a wok either. I think I would use it a lot, but I do fine with the pans that I use now. Maybe someday soon!

Anonymous said...

I have to say, Kirsten, we own a wok and it sees very little service. Besides, you got great results from a regular pan!

You don't mention times here, but stir fry cooks very quickly--we're talking minutes. Don't overcook or the vegetables will lose their nice crunchy snap.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have a wok and always feel I don't use it enough - this recipe of yours would fit like a glove, Kirsten!

Kirsten said...

Hi Peabody - yes, a gift it a totally different catagory. :)

Hi Margot - I think I am well on my way to being convinced of geting a wok. Thanks for the comment.

Hi Deborah and Christy! Thanks for the comments.

Hi Lululu - good point - do woks even work well with electric? I guess I would have to seek out a good flat-bottomed one.

Hey Mo and Nora - you both have me convinced!

Hi Kristen!! No kids, I swear that is the only way its possible. :)

Great point Terry - this literally took 2-3 minutes total. The mise en place is crucial because everything moves FAST after that.

Hi Farmgirl Cyn - yes, I am proof a large skillet can totally do the trick.

Thanks Patricia - it was so easy (once all the chopping was done), I'll be making it a lot more too!

. . . said...

it looks gorgeous and delicious! the sesame seeds are a very nice touch

Kelly-Jane said...

I have a cheap wok, and I hanker after buying a more high end one, but really there is nothing wrong with the one I have... but I still think about it!

My kitcken is choc a block with jars, pots, moulds jugs...

Fabulous stir fry, I would eat Chinese 5 nights a week if I could :)

Shannon said...

Looks so clean. I love your recipes. I too am a budding chef.

Shannon (aka Shabaks Kitchen)

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