When our three kids come home for Christmas, they always want the meals they remember. It's funny, as I don't think of our dinners together as Norman Rockwellesque. It was always a challenge for me to get home to get it on the table, and someone was always running somewhere five minutes after we sat down. But I guess all of that is part of the family glue.
One of the family favorites was this stir-fry dinner that is so old, it was called "Basic Oriental Stir-fry with Chicken." I am calling it Basic Asian Stir-fry, as I haven't heard anyone use that term in 20 years.
Anyway, the recipe comes from The Frog Commissary Cookbook, from Steven Poses and company, who, back in the '80s when I was learning to cook, were all the rage in the Philadelphia dining scene, with the restaurants Frog and the Commissary.
That cookbook was one of the first to open my eyes to cooking with all the flavors of the world, and I still turn back to it to this day.
I had attempted stir-fry before I tried this recipe, but I could never get the sauce to cling to the vegetables and meat, or to infuse the dish with a truly Asian flavor.
With a combination of fresh ginger, garlic, Tabasco, soy sauce, and sesame oil, this recipe did the trick. But it also added an unexpected citrus kick, with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. (And because it uses corn starch as a thickening agent, it is already gluten-free!)
The recipe does call for a lot of ingredients, but nothing out of the ordinary. The key to success is to measure and chop before you start. Once you have everything organized, it is pretty simple to put it all together. If you start the rice first, the rest of the dinner will be ready in the 20 minutes it takes the rice to cook.
Give it a try and see if it doesn't become one of your family's faves.
Basic Asian Stir-Fry With Chicken
makes 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons corn oil
6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 2-by-1/2-inch strips
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup julienned red or green pepper
20 snow peas, stemmed (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
Cooked brown rice or noodles
For the sauce:
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
1. To prepare the sauce, heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry 15-30 seconds over medium heat to bring out the flavor. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Bring just to a boil, stirring. Dissolve the cornstarch in the rice wine and whisk into the sauce. Heat until sauce thickens and reaches a full boil. Simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside. The sauce can be made in quantity and kept on hand in the refrigerator.
2. Have all of your stir-fry ingredients ready. Heat corn oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat until very hot. Add chicken, and stir fry 1-2 minutes. Add the vegetables, and sauté until crisp-tender (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sauce. Heat through briefly, and serve at once over rice.
Per serving (based on 6): 498 calories, 18 grams protein, 79 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 13 grams fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 461 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.