What is up bitches?!? I bet some of you readers thought the TGC series went the way of your childhood pet cat/dog Sniffles or whatever name it had, six feet under to a "better place" (by which your parents meant a place without you) never to come back. But it's back, alive and kicking, thanks to some hiccups in a much larger upcoming project I am attempting.
This time around we are making a simple home style stir fry that takes mere minutes to assemble and is great for a summer lunch. The three main ingredients are chicken breasts, green bell peppers, and mushrooms. It is a light yet flavorful combination that draws influences from both traditional Chinese cuisine and Western style Chinese cuisine.
More ingredients than you can shake a stick at? I don't think so. You can shake a stick at all of them if you wanted to.
Prep/Cook time: 15 minutes, plus ~2 hours hydration/marination time Serves 2-3
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts [+] 2 green bell peppers 7-8 button, brown, or shiitake mushrooms* Chinese cooking wine** salt pepper*** 1 garlic clove (optional) cooking oil 1 tbsp corn starch or 1 1/2 tbsp flour
*In the picture I had some hydrated shiitakes and a few leftover button mushrooms. You can use all of one type, a mixture, or however you like. Of course, shiitakes and mushrooms aren't exactly cheap. If you're on a shoestring budget you can omit mushrooms altogether. **The brown kind. If you buy Chinese cooking wine from an Asian goods store it should be far cheaper than the cheapest grape wine you can find. Otherwise, substitute the cheapest white wine you can find. ***White or black pepper can work. White pepper is quite expensive in Western supermarkets for whatever reason, you can probably find it cheaper in the same Asian goods store you buy the Chinese cooking wine.
[+] So I got a complaint that boneless skinless chicken breasts are technically the most expensive cut of chicken. If cost is an issue, what you should do is buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself. You will get two wings, two thighs, two legs, two breasts, a neck, the gizzards, the back, and the breast bones. The bones (and gizzards and neck) can be used for stock. Most cooks will tell you to use the back for stock as well, but it has a fair amount of meat on it. Cut it in half and you get an additional two pieces of chicken. All the pieces minus the bones and the breasts can be used for dark meat endeavours such as chicken stews, roasts, and the like. Use the breasts for stuff like what I've got here. There will be more on this in an upcoming blog entry.
This time we'll start with the cooking first and move on to the prep later! Just kidding. We always prep first.
At least two hours before you make the dish, cut your chicken breasts into about 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces. Season them with about half a teaspoon of salt and douse with 5-6 tablespoons of wine. Set the breasts in the refrigerator until cooking time. If you are using dried shiitakes, use this time to submerge them in some water as well (cold water if soaking overnight, warm if on the same day). Both marination and soaking can be done up to a day ahead of time.
These days chicken farmers are obsessed with large breasts.
Just before you are ready to cook, chop your mushrooms and green peppers into bite-sized pieces, also roughly 3/4 inch (2 cm). Mash your clove of garlic. If you plan to serve this dish with rice, you should start on it roughly 10 minutes after the rice has started cooking to ensure that both items finish at the same time.
NOTE: If you are using rehydrated shiitakes, squeeze the excess juice out of them after removing from the soaking liquid. This is a very mild dish and the strong flavor of shiitake can easily overpower everything else.
If you know karate, feel free to chop the vegetables by hand.
Now we are ready to cook. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil into a pan and turn heat to high (if on an electric range) or medium/medium high (if on a gas stove). Dump your chicken minus the marinating fluid into the pan. Season with pepper and cook until just before done, about two minutes. Stir the chicken often to keep it going and cook all sides evenly. Do not worry about browning; it is not required for this dish.
The French will tell you this is poulet and the Chinese will tell you it's ji, but they're all lying. It's actually just chicken.
Dump all of your vegetables into the same pan. Season with salt and cook until almost done, which should take about three minutes. The non-shiitake mushrooms should soften but the green peppers should stay firm and crisp. While you are stir frying, prepare about 6 tablespoons of cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (or 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour).
What if it's possible to become fungitarian and not eat meat or vegetables?
When the vegetables are almost done, add both the chicken and flour/water mixture into the pan. Taste for seasoning. Cook for about a minute or two until the the sauce thickens and coats all the pieces of meat and vegetables.
To Westernize the dish further, add six cups of heavy cream and beat in four sticks of butter.
Serve hot with steamed short-grained rice. Although the dish is mild, it pairs well with other, strong-flavored dishes such as chilled kimchi for contrast.
Kimchi is like Wheaties for Starcraft.
4.5 / 5 Pretty good for a quick, fast meal. The crisp green bell peppers provide a contrast in texture from the juicy mushrooms and chicken. The chicken breasts are tender and juicy, not tough or overcooked. As you can see, I have a small side bowl with some kimchi topped with a bit of chopped scallions to balance out the flavors for the meal.
Unlike Western cooking philosophy, which considers a wide variety of flavors in terms of gauging a dish, Chinese cuisine prioritizes two main factors when determining how tasty a dish is: aroma and umame (or savoriness). For this reason, you will often find many dishes in true Chinese cuisine which are rather one-dimensional in flavor, but presents the flavor in an extremely assertive way. This is a dish that follows such a philosophy: both chicken and mushrooms are heavily umame-flavored and serve to enhance each others' flavor in this dish. The overall taste is simple and direct. That is why it is good to have a small side of kimchi for palate cleansing if this is the only dish you plan to serve with rice.
And that's the end of that. Questions and comments welcome. All past entries of The Ghetto Cook and my other series Hasu Cook can be found on my main blog,
On May 16 2012 14:42 JerKy wrote: As a college student trying to save money, I always love your blogs (they also make me very very hungry at night....)
Have you tried making this dish in a much spicier fashion? Like adding pepper power or paste to make everything red and spicy Really interested in trying it out (I'm obsessed with spicy things D: )
Thematically this is a "clean" dish designed not to be spicy. You can try mixing something like a garlic chili paste directly into the dish to your desired spiciness.
I have a Shanghai palate, which means when I make something spicy I also try to make it a bit sweet and probably involve a bit of soy sauce. If you're Korean your palate may not be the same as mine so it's hard for me to think of how to cater to your palate
Logic is Overrated
FastEddieV United States. May 16 2012 15:12. Posts 608
I love to make this kind of thing. I had stir fry vegetables and chicken on the bone for dinner in fact. As a fan of food, I recommend JerKy get a bottle of Sriracha and a small thing of sambal olek. Both really fit well with adding spiciness portion by portion.
platinum? more like leaf
JerKy Korea (South). May 16 2012 16:35. Posts 1968
Nice. Just as smell of food is floating through the window at almost dinner time here. Also, the end result totally looks like something that would be served in Chinatown, well done
Your captions are awesome, I kinda pictured some of them on those Unimpressed Flash Meme thread regulars: "More ingredients than you can shake a stick at? I don't think so. You can shake a stick at all of them if you wanted to." Is totally PhilosoStorkoraptor
"What if it's possible to become fungitarian and not eat meat or vegetables?" Is totally Conspiracy Bisu.
On May 16 2012 18:38 elt wrote: Do you have any alternative/replacement suggestions for bell peppers? For some reason I absolutely cannot stand their taste.
I'd say asparagus is the best alternative.
If you don't really care to stick with the theme though, you can use broccoli, snap peas, or any other crisp vegetable, and even flesh it out further with onions, carrots, bamboo shoots, baby corn, and any other vegetables you've got.
Logic is Overrated
khaydarin9 Australia. May 16 2012 21:40. Posts 416