I often don’t think about what to make for dinner until it’s well into the afternoon and then I need to scramble to get it done. Usually, I realize too late that dinnertime is fast approaching and have to hustle to get things ready to eat at a reasonable hour.
I googled for easy chicken recipe and came across a couple of Chinese stir-fry dishes that caught my attention. This one, in particular, seemed pretty easy. After scanning the pantry for discrepancies between available and needed, I ran down to the UnSafeway for chicken, onion and peppers (and other stuff for marinating steak kabobs for another dinner…details tomorrow). I didn’t have white wine vinegar, but since I usually prefer to modify existing recipes, I didn’t bother getting everything on the recipe.
One of the problems I have is that I waste too much unprepared food, like green onions, half-used peppers, etc., and I’ll just toss them after a few days when they’re limp and useless. Part of this project is to be better about using the ingredients I have on-hand, even if they’re not explicitly called for in a recipe. I figure it’ll be alright tossed in. And I don’t need 7 different flavored oils, the two (olive and peanut) I have handy should get any job done.
I probably could improve on last night’s dinner by adding in a little crushed red pepper and a little salt. Not much, but just enough to add some kick.
Prep time: 15 minutes, cooking time 25 minutes.
- Package of chicken breast tenders
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Peanut oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- Chives (leftover from a previous dish)
- Red bell pepper (I used ½ of one, figuring to use the other half in a different meal)
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- 3 green onions
- Water chestnuts (a can happened to be lying in the cupboard)
- White rice
- Start the rice. I love having a rice cooker. It’s easy—throw in a little water, salt, rice, press a button and presto, 20 minutes later, you have perfect rice. I try hard to avoid kitchen gadgetry, but if there’s one that I’ll compromise on, it’s that. Nothing sucks the life out of a meal like badly done rice. Since I don’t currently have a rice cooker, so my strategy is to throw in a small pat of butter with the rice on the stovetop, turn the heat up to medium-high and get it to boil before bringing the heat down to low (not the lowest setting, but 2-3 on my stovetop).
- I try to cut up the garlic & vegetables first, so that I don’t have to cut anything after I’ve been mucking around with raw chicken, and leave them aside.
- Cut the chicken into chunks.
- The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. I just eyeball it; I’m sure I went over 3 tablespoons. Won’t matter. Combine the cornstarch and chicken chunks in a bag, shake to coat.
- The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. I love the way peanut oil tastes and smells while cooking, so I used that. Again, eyeballing it, probably 3 tablespoons. Heat the skillet with the oil. I like it hot, but not sizzling. Call it medium-high for a couple minutes.
- Toss in the minced garlic. I like to let the garlic go a couple minutes soaking in the hot peanut oil.
- Toss in the coated chicken. Let the chicken brown. Stir, careful not to let the chicken burn until the chicken is browned and mostly done.
- Toss in some soy sauce (probably 4 tablespoons) and some rice vinegar (probably 3 tablespoons), again it won’t really matter because you can always add a little more. The soy sauce gives the chicken a nice browned color.
- Toss in the chives, bell pepper, onions, and water chestnuts. Stir.
- Hopefully the rice is done. Serve the stir fry over rice. Nom.