Tender Asian chicken breast stir fry

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I don’t know about everyone else, but I used to dislike chicken breast.  Secretly I called it the “white people meat” because Asian people tend to use chicken legs/thighs.  I found chicken breast to be bland and dry in general.  But back in the summer, someone changed my mind about this cut of meat.  I’ll tell that story another time.  It turns out that I’ve been over-cooking it all these years, causing the meat to turn dry.  With the right cooking method, chicken breast can actually be moist and flavorful.

My mom came to Vancouver a few weeks ago to help us with Joshua/Savanna/my postpartum care.  She made a stir fry dish with chicken breast that further solidified my new “like” of chicken breast.  I had no idea chicken breast can be *this* tender and flavorful.

With the way my mom cooks, there’s no “recipe”.  Everything is by estimate–a sprinkle of this, a splash of that.  So here’s the estimated recipe.  Please adjust all seasoning to your own taste.  You can use whatever veggies your heart desires.  Today we had a zucchini in our fridge, so that’s what I used.  But feel free to use green beans, gai lan, bok choy, whatever.

Joshua painstakingly picks out the veggies, but he eats up this chicken like there’s no tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of chicken breast (i.e. the entire breast from 1 chicken)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking wine (rice wine) (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • a dash of white pepper
  • a bit of graded ginger (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon of corn starch + 2 teaspoon of cool water
  • 1 zucchini or whatever veggies you want to use
  • salt
  • grapeseed oil (or whatever cooking oil you like to use)

Method

  1. Thinly slice the chicken breast.  I find it easiest when the meat is half frozen.  So I tend to defrost the meat from the freezer for a couple of hours, and slice it before it’s completely thawed out.
  2. Combine the sliced chicken breast meat, soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, white pepper, ginger together in a bowl.  Let sit either over night, or at least for 10 minutes.  Set aside and prepare the veggies.
  3. Cut up the veggies you want to stir fry, and cook them up first.  Generally I heat up a couple of tablespoon of grapeseed oil, stir fry the veggies till cooked, and add salt.  No magic here.  Place the cooked veggies on a plate.
  4. Combine corn starch and water in a separate small bowl until the corn starch is desolved. Add this liquidy paste to the marinated chicken.  Stir until the chicken has absorbed all the liquid.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil to the frying pan on medium high heat, and add chicken to the pan.  Continually stir and turn the chicken to ensure even cooking.  The biggest “trick” here my mom taught me, is that you only cook the chicken till it is 80 or 90% done.  So as soon as I don’t see any pink on the surface of the chicken, it’s time to remove the chicken from the heat.  Pile the chicken on top of the veggies, or you can throw all the veggies into the pan and mix it up with the chicken, and you’re done.
  6. Let the chicken sit for 3 or 4 minutes before serving.  The heat from cooking will continue to cook the chicken while it sits, ensuring super tender meat cooked to perfect done-ness.
  7. Serve with rice.
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