Today’s recipe for Chicken and Chinese Broccoli stir fry begins with a little anecdote.
So when I was in college (I can’t believe I’m now a person who can say “When I was in college…” I feel so old), trying to make do by getting creative at the dining hall’s do-it-yourself pasta station or choking down vegan couscous salad (that was all they had if you got there a minute after 8:00), I would naturally get homesick for…you know, food that didn’t involve soulless mixtures of couscous and kidney beans, large pans of slowly congealing meat, and/or gallons of nondescript canned spaghetti sauce.
So every now and then, my friends and I would rally and order Chinese takeout. Sometimes we went for pizza. Sometimes it was Indian. But most often, we went for Chinese.
Right, so one particular evening, I was really in need of something “Chinese” that wasn’t heavily covered in grease. I bypassed the sesame chicken, the noodles, and every “garlic sauce” option on the menu.
No. I was looking for something a little closer to home.
So we walked to the local place and lo and behold, I found my answer on the “special” menu. (Visualize for a moment the anatomy of a Chinese takeout restaurant. You know those lit-up, faded food photos that are always above kitchen? The ones you never take a second glance at because they’re usually not included on the larger, infinitely more attractive paper menus sitting on the counter? It was there. Does ANYONE ever order off that thing? I guess I did. Tsk tsk.)
It was just chicken stir-fried with Chinese veggies. It looked like choy sum or Chinese broccoli in the picture, and I got irrationally happy about it.
So by the time we get back to the dorm, I’m really excited, right? I open up that styrofoam container, and it looks great. Not a trace of fried neon-orange globules or goopy sauce anywhere.
And then I take a bite.
And it’s so bad.
It was salty. It was sandy (an indication that they hadn’t bothered to wash the veg). It was a gastronomic travesty!
(I tend to get a little overdramatic when it comes to such things.)
So naturally, after that experience, I had to recreate this chicken and Chinese broccoli dish myself. In a non-gross, infinitely more well-executed way, so that I could get the whole sordid experience out of my head.
Is that weird?
Here’s the dish. Since that initial therapeutic cooking session, I’ve remade it many times, because it’s just so dern easy. A lot easier than ordering it at a takeout restaurant and carefully picking out the non-sandy chicken, because hey…you paid for it, and it’s after 11 PM, and you already walked ALL the way back to your dorm room, so it’s not like you’re going to go back and complain.
Yeah. It’s WAY easier than that.
Here it is, folks. I make my chicken and chinese broccoli version with shiitake mushrooms, because I like ’em. But you can leave those out if you don’t have them on hand. This time, I also found baby Chinese broccoli, which is a bit more tender than the regular stuff, but either will do ya just fine.
You’ll want to give them around three rinses, to make sure they’re really clean. Like…CLEAN. You don’t want to experience “Sarah Ordered Sandy Food: The SEQUEL.”
(Note: if using Chinese broccoli, make sure to peel the ends about two inches up the stalk. Like asparagus, those ends can be a little tough).
Stir and set aside while you’re preparing the other stuff. For more information and preparing chicken for stir fries, see Bill’s post on Chicken velveting 101.
Slice up your garlic and your reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms. (The garlic was camera-shy. Which is why it’s, uh, not pictured. Silly garlic! Ha. Ha. *ahem*)
Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large wok or skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry it, just until you get a nice sear on the outside. Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside. Then stir-fry the mushrooms and set those aside.
Add another couple tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the garlic and the greens. Stir-fry until the greens are wilted, about 3 minutes.
Add your chicken and mushrooms back to the pan and stir everything together. Add another tablespoon each of shaoxing wine and soy sauce. Continue to stir-fry for another couple minutes until the veggies are tender.
Serve your chicken and Chinese broccoli stir fry with lots of rice!
Chicken and Chinese Broccoli Stir-Fry
- 1 pound baby Chinese broccoli (or other leafy green like choy sum; 450g)
- 1 chicken breast
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided)
- 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
- 8 dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked and reconstituted in warm water)
- 3 cloves garlic
- Start by washing your vegetables by soaking them in water. You’ll want to give them two to three good rinses to make sure they’re really clean.
- Slice up your chicken into thin strips and put it all in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the shaoxing wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the white pepper, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Stir and set aside to marinate for a few minutes.
- Slice up your mushrooms and garlic.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large wok or skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry it, just until you get a nice sear on the outside. Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside. Then stir-fry the mushrooms and set those aside.
- Add another couple tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the garlic and the greens. Stir-fry until the greens are wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Add your chicken and mushrooms back to the pan and stir everything together. Add another tablespoon each of shaoxing wine and soy sauce. Continue to stir-fry for another couple minutes until the veggies are tender.