CHICKEN & ZUCCHINI STIR-FRY

Zucchini is a delicious vegetable but pretty tricky to stir-fry, as it can go mushy super quickly. Today I share a recipe that deals with this problem and results in a nice one-pot meal, flavorful and easy to put together. Just keep in mind you’ll need 30 minutes to draw the juices out of the zucchini slices, which is about the same time the chicken will need to marinate. Perfect timing!

ORIENTAL-STYLE CHICKEN AND ZUCCHINI STIR-FRY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

to marinate the meat:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch

for stir-fry:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 Serrano pepper, finely minced
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornstarch
salt to taste
roasted peanuts, about 1/3 cup
fresh cilantro leaves to serve

Prepare the zucchini by adding it to a large bowl and sprinkling the salt all over. Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes. Rinse briefly to remove the salt, dry the slices over paper towel. They are now ready to use.

Marinate the chicken by mixing sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch and baking soda in a small bowl, and adding to the meat. Leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Make the finishing sauce by mixing water, hoisin, soy, sesame oil and cornstarch. Reserve.

Heat the oil on a wok, add the chicken pieces and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a bowl, add more oil if needed, sauté the bell pepper and Serrano pepper for a couple of minutes, seasoning lightly with salt. Increase the heat to high, add the zucchini slices, move them around for 10 seconds or so, add the chicken back, stir fry everything together for a minute. Add the finishing sauce, and heat it all together until it thickens slightly. Add peanuts, cilantro, and serve over steamed white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I really like the fact that marinating the meat and prepping the zucchini takes the same amount of time. Once that is out of the way, dinner will be ready in minutes, and all textures will be perfect. The zucchini cooks so quickly that you can also add it together with the finishing sauce and just heat it for a few minutes until it all thickens, making it even simpler. If you like more heat, add Sriracha or any other type of chili oil. Of course, for most people garlic and onion sauté with the bell peppers will be great too. As I always say, your kitchen, your rules… But definitely give this a try, you will not look at zucchini stir-fry the same way…

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STIR-FRIED CHICKEN IN SESAME-ORANGE SAUCE

This type of preparation profits from the additional step of velveting the meat. In this version, instead of velveting, I opted to cook the chicken sous-vide, then slice it and incorporate in the sauce. It worked very well, in fact I’ve done that with beef also, but never blogged about it, not sure why.  Those pictures are still sitting in a folder from 2016, if you can believe it…  But back to what matters. This turned out so delicious, the husband made me promise it will be a regular in our rotation. Number one fear of a food blogger’s partner: once a recipe is tried, it will be gone forever!  No such risk with this one.  If you don’t have a sous-vide gadget, simply slice the chicken very thinly, use the velveting method I showed before (click here), and proceed with the recipe as described.

STIR-FRIED CHICKEN WITH VEGGIES IN SESAME-ORANGE SAUCE
(adapted from several sources)

for the sous-vide:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp olive oil
grated ginger and salt to taste
for the sauce:

¼ cup ponzu sauce
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 ½ teaspoons tapioca flour
grated zest of 1/2 orange plus 1/3 cup juice
for the stir-fry:
1 tablespoon olive oil (or other oil of your choice)
Chicken cooked sous-vide, sliced thin
1 pound broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
salt and red pepper flakes to taste
lemon juice to taste
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Place the chicken breast rubbed with the olive oil and seasoned with ginger and salt inside a food-safe plastic bag. No need to seal with vacuum, but you can if you prefer. Place chicken in sous-vide at 150F and cook for 3 to 4 hours. Time is flexible, you can leave it longer if needed, but don’t let it go past 6 hours at that temperature.

Whisk all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl, and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a wok or large non-stick skillet (12 inch) over very high heat until almost smoking. Add the broccoli and carrots, season with salt and red pepper flakes, stir-fry for a couple of minutes. When the veggies start to get some browned spots, pour 1/3 cup water in the pan and cover with a lid. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, open the lid and check that the veggies are tender. If there is any liquid in the pan, let it evaporate.

Add the chicken slices previously cooked, move the pieces around to warm them through. Add the reserved sauce, and simmer everything together until the sauce is slightly thickened.  Squirt some lemon juice right before serving, and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Funny little tangent. Probably because of all the baking I’ve been doing, I am now really adamant about mis-en-place. As I was preparing this meal, I had all my ingredients prepped, super proud of myself.  I took the picture above and then proceeded to gather the ingredients for the sauce. Added everything to a nice yellow bowl, and had this self-complimenting thought “you are really dominating this mis-en-place thing.”  Right after my neurons formulated the thought, I dropped the orange in the beautiful yellow bowl with all ingredients so carefully measured and ready to go. Bowl flipped on the counter top, spilling everything right before my adrenaline-dilated pupils. Lesson in humility taken. End of story.

But, despite the drama, this was one tasty meal, reasonably low in carbs and fat, and the chicken had perfect texture, none of that stringy quality so common in stir-fries. The sous-vide is a nice option. You could conceivably make it the day before even, keep still in the bag in the fridge, bring to room temperature as you get your ingredients ready.  We’ll definitely incorporate this recipe in our regular rotation from now on. Just need to work on that “mis-en-place” thing.

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