Chicken and vegetable stir-fry is an excellent dish in many ways. It is quick to prepare, rich in vitamins and minerals with a balanced proportion of protein, carbohydrates, and fibers.
Chicken and vegetable stir-fry is also the home-cooked dish that I like, best to serve with steamed rice, but is also delightful to be a stand-alone meal or to serve with noodles.
I will explain in detail how do I prepare the chicken and vegetable stir-fry. The recipe is very forgiving, which means you can use any combination of vegetables and substitute the chicken thigh with breast meat.
1. How to prepare the chicken
Here are three crucial points on how to prepare chicken meat. Let me explain.
- Marinate the chicken. This step is essential because chicken meat does not absorb the flavor of the stir fry sauce quick enough during the short stir-frying process. As a result, the meat will become tasteless in contrast to the broccoli and mushrooms that soak up all the gravy almost instantly.
To solve this problem, marinate the chicken with salt for at least fifteen minutes for thin slices and longer for bigger chunks.
There are a few common ingredients for the marinade beside salt. You can use light soy sauce for additional flavor; some cooking oil to create a smooth texture and a little cornstarch to protect the meat from the direct heat during frying to avoid it to become dry.
- The choice of meat. Either chicken breast or thigh meat is suitable for this dish. I prefer to use thigh meat because it has better flavor and more tender. Besides, thigh meat will not break into smaller pieces during stir-frying easily as compared to breast meat.
- Stir fry the chicken meat with some oil until golden brown to accentuate the umami. If you don’t do that, the stir-fried chicken will not develop the signature stir-frying aroma.
Stir fry the chicken separately from is the best way to achieve this. You may need to use lower heat initially since the chicken tends to stick to the surface of the wok due to the presence of cornstarch.
2. Prepare the vegetables
The choice of vegetables
Vegetables and chicken are the perfect combinations viewed from different aspects. It is a meal with balanced protein, carbohydrates, and fibers. This stir fry is also rich in natural pigments, vitamins, and minerals.
On the culinary side, the vegetables are visually appealing with multiple colors and various shapes. They also have unique textures – a mix of crunchy vegetables and, chewy mushrooms.
You can use other vegetables apart from those listed in the recipe in the following section. When you do that, remember always choose a combination with different color and texture. Also, cut them into different shapes for better presentation.
Soak the dried mushrooms
If you are using the Chinese dried shiitake mushrooms, soak It overnight before use.
The dried mushrooms have a better flavor than the fresh counterpart.
If you are short of time, soak the mushrooms in hot water and place a plate on top to ensure they are all submerged in the water. Once it is partially hydrated, remove the stem, and cut into strips than continue soaking until fully hydrated. The time required will reduce drastically to only one to two hours.
The water after soaking the mushrooms is like a mushroom stock, full of flavor. Use it for cooking the vegetables and making the cornstarch slurry.
Blanch the carrot and broccoli
This step is optional, but I use it all the time for a reason.
The carrot and broccoli are harder vegetables. It is a bad idea to cook with others at the same time. You will expect other vegetables are already overcooked by the time the carrot pieces become tender. Although you may stir fry the carrots and broccoli first and then add other fast-cooking vegetables in stages, again prolonged stir-frying will make the carrot and broccoli less presentable. The oil in the pan may dirty the vegetables, and stir-frying tend to break up the broccoli florets.
Therefore, I blanch the carrot for five minutes and broccoli florets for four minutes, then finish up by stir-frying the carrot and broccoli with the rest for a minute.
3. Prepare the seasoning
Mix the sauce
There is no ‘standard’ stir-fry sauce, but most of the Chinese will very likely use oyster sauce and light soy sauce in various proportions as the main ingredients. Besides both sauces, I also include some Chinese rice wine, ground white pepper, salt, and sugar. I premix all the ingredients in a bowl. This way can eliminate any chances of adding the wrong amount or omit an item unintentionally.
However, it is better to leave out the sesame oil and cornflour from the above combination. Since sesame oil is heat-sensitive, I prefer to add to the wok in the last few seconds of stir-frying.
Combine the cornflour with water to form a slurry. Use the cornflour slurry to thicken the sauce in the last thirty seconds. The amount of the cornflour required depends on how much liquid is still in the wok. Therefore, the amount may not be the same for each cooking. Add some water if you like to have more gravy.
4. Cook the chicken and vegetable stir fry
I will start the stir-frying with the chicken and oil.
Heat all the oil as required in this recipe into the wok over low to medium heat. Add the sliced chicken pieces into it and start to stir fry.
There are two tips I would like to share.
- First, do not start with high heat. If you do so, high heat will cause the chicken pieces to stick on to the wok surface (unless you are using a non-stick pan), due to the presence of the cornflour in the marinade.
- Secondly, stir-fry (or you can pan-fry it like pan-frying steak) until it turns color and aromatic. This step makes lots of difference to the final result as it creates aroma.
Once the chicken turns golden brown, remove and leave the excess oil in the wok.
The garlic and ginger
Coarsely chopped the garlic. I would not suggest mincing the garlic as minced garlic can burn quickly during sauteing.
Now use the remaining oil in the wok to saute the garlic and ginger slices. You may add some extra cooking oil if it is insufficient. The goal is to flavor the oil with garlic. The result is the flavorful chicken garlic oil, which will be used to stir fry the vegetables.
Once the garlic turns aromatic, remove and set aside. Since we want to stir fry the vegetables with higher heat, the garlic will burn by the time we finish stir-frying the vegetables if you do not remove it.
Use the remaining oil in the wok to stir fry the vegetables.
Stir fry the vegetables
Now add the Chinese mushrooms to the wok. Have a few quick stirs. Turn your stove to high heat and get ready to stir fry the vegetables.
Since we have blanched the carrot and broccoli florets, all the remaining ingredients will be cooked in the same period. In other words, you can add all the vegetables to the wok now.
Here are two tips I would like to share:
- Keep the wok at a high heat at all times. The goal is to stir fry the vegetables quickly, which is vital to retain the bright color and the crunchiness.
- Splash a tablespoon of water into the wok whenever you feel it is too dry. Do not add too much water at any time to keep the wok hot all the time. You can keep adding a tablespoon of water every fifteen seconds, but of course, the amount also depends on the quantity you cook.
Add the stir fry sauce. Flip and toss to combine the vegetables with the sauce. Add more water if you want to have more sauce eventually.
- Once the vegetables are well combined with the flavored oil and stir fry sauce, return the cooked chicken and garlic to the wok.
- Add half of the cornflour slurry to thicken the sauce.
- You may not need all the cornflour slurry to thicken the sauce. That is why I suggest to add half of it first, check and then decide whether it is necessary to add the remainder. You should stop adding it once you get the desired consistency of the sauce.
- Finally, add the sesame oil, mix, and dish out.
- 300g chicken meat (thigh or breast meat)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 30g Chinese dried mushrooms (dry weight)
- 60g button mushrooms
- 150g broccoli florets (after cut)
- 70g baby corn
- 60g red capsicums (after cut)
- 80g carrot (after cut)
- 6 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)
- 4 slices ginger
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1.5 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp cooking oil for stir-frying
- Marinate the chicken with ingredients A for 15 minutes.
- Soak the dried mushrooms overnight. Remove the stem and cut into strips
- Blanch the carrot for one minute and broccoli for four minutes in boiling water. Remove and drain.
- Prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in C except the sesame oil.
- Stir fry the chicken with 2 tbsp of cooking oil over low to medium heat until golden brown. Remove.
- Saute the garlic and ginger until aromatic. Remove.
- Add the Chinese mushrooms to the wok. Have a few quick stirs.
- Turn to high heat. Add the remaining ingredients.
- Add the stir fry sauce.
- Once the vegetables are well combined with the flavored oil and stir fry sauce, return the cooked chicken and sauteed garlic to the wok.
- Thicken with cornflour slurry (Ingredients D)
- Finally, add the sesame oil, mix, and dish out.
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Serving Size:2 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 862 Total Fat: 50g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 40g Cholesterol: 134mg Sodium: 2969mg Carbohydrates: 55g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 9g Sugar: 11g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 51g