Asian-y Chicken

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Cut the chicken into chunks.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Toss in the minced garlic.  I like to let the garlic go a couple minutes soaking in the hot peanut oil.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Toss in the chives, bell pepper, onions, and water chestnuts.  Stir.
  10. Hopefully the rice is done.  Serve the stir fry over rice.  Nom.
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