I have a confession to make. Out of all the different genres of food, Asian cookery is by far my weakest subject. Since I tend to gravitate more towards Mediterranean flavors, that’s what we typically cook at home. But every now and again, you just get that deep craving for the flavors of the Far East – whether it’s complex, bright Thai food; bold, spicy Korean; or even just the classic flavors of good ‘ol Americanized Chinese take-out.
Earlier this week, I had a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies on hand, along with some chicken thighs, so I decided to try making my own stir-fry sauce (the ready made versions at the store are always so sugary!). Here’s the thing I’ve learned about most stir-fry sauce recipes: they’re usually pretty simple, and it’s up to you to add your own preferred flavors to make them shine. In my case, that meant lots of garlic and chili to make it extra spicy, but you can really do whatever you want. Ginger, orange, mushrooms, Chinese black bean sauce — all great routes to go!
This recipe is so perfect for a weeknight meal, because you can throw in whatever veggies or protein you have on hand, and serve it over rice, noodles, or even something like quinoa if you were being extra healthy. Was it the best stir-fry I’d ever had? No. Was it the best I’ve ever made at home? Probably. I’ll keep working on my Asian cookery! Here’s what I did:
Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Spicy Garlic Sauce
For the sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp soy sauce (have more on hand, in case you like things extra saucy)
1 tbsp rice wine (mirin), or substitute sherry or even scotch (I read somewhere online that you can do this, but haven’t tried it!)
1/4 c beef, chicken or veggie stock
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil (or substitute 1 tsp of smooth peanut butter)
1.5 tsp – 1 tbsp chili oil
— kosher or sea salt to taste
— ground white pepper to taste
For the stir-fry
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
1 lb chicken (can use white or dark meat), diced
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 medium onion, peeled and small diced
1 jalapeno, stemmed and quartered
1 package frozen stir fry veggies
2 bunches of baby bok choy (the really little bok choys!), rinsed and chopped
What to do
In a small bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients, and whisk together until the corn starch is dissolved. Set aside.
In a wok or a large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Once hot, add in the chicken pieces and let cook, about 2-3 minutes per side, until it’s no longer pink and is beginning to brown slightly. Remove the browned pieces to a clean bowl. Next, add in the garlic, onion, and jalapeno to the pan, and quickly stir until it begins to soften and is very aromatic (if you are using ginger, this is when you should add it!). Then, add in the frozen veggies and the bok choy, and continue to quickly stir, so that the veggies do not steam.
When the veggies have thawed and are beginning to warm through, add in the chicken and the sauce mixture, and stir. Once the sauce comes to a boil, it should thicken significantly. Let cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring constantly. Taste the sauce for seasoning — I like mine pretty garlicky and spicy, so here’s where I added in more chili, and even a hit of garlic powder. You can also add more soy sauce or mirin too if you want it extra saucy. Be sure to add salt or white pepper if you think it needs it.
Spoon the stir-fry over rice or noodles, and serve! I like to be pretty non-traditional and douse my stir-fry in sriracha…if you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a total spicy addict.