Zucchini stir fry with chicken is fast, easy to cook, healthy, and ready in 25 minutes. This stir-fry recipe with Asian flavors is a welcoming change to baking, roasting, and grilling zucchini. It is a great way to turn the humble zucchinis into a Chinese restaurant-style dish.
You can adapt this easy recipe to any protein apart from chicken to become a complete meal.
Let’s get into the details right now.
Note: Zucchini is also called courgette in some places and is called 翠玉瓜 or 夏南瓜 in Chinese,
How to prepare zucchini stir fry chicken
1. Marinate the chicken
Cut the chicken breast meat into thin slices. I prefer to remove the skin as it falls off the meat during slicing. You may also use chicken thigh meat if you prefer.
Marinate the meat with the following ingredients: light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt, sugar, cornstarch, ground white pepper, and some oil. These are the basic pantry staples that every Chinese family should have. I strongly suggest preparing all these items if you cook Chinese food regularly.
Message the marinade into the chicken, and keep it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour or longer before pan-frying.
Shrimp, pork, and beef (steak and zucchini stir-fry) are other protein sources besides chicken. You may also omit the protein to turn it into a side dish to serve along with other main dishes. For vegetarians, I recommend adding mushrooms to become zucchini and mushroom stir-fry.
2. Pan-fry the chicken separately to get the best result
I prefer cooking the chicken separately as it takes longer than the vegetables.
- Heat some oil in a pan.
- Place the chicken meat on the pan, single-layered, and pan-fry until both sides are lightly brown. A non-stick pan is handy as the chicken tends to stick to the pan due to the cornstarch in the marinade. Keep the heat low to medium to keep the chicken meat tender and soft. You may need more oil with a regular pan to prevent them from sticking.
- Remove the chicken and set it aside.
3. Prep all the vegetables and aromatics
a. The aromatics
Ginger, garlic, and scallion are the perfect trio to perfume any Chinese stir-fry. We also use them with some red chili as the aromatic for our General Tso Chicken.
Cut the fresh ginger into thin slices to let the flavor release quickly. As for the garlic, bash it with the flat of the knife and coarsely chop. There is no need to mince the garlic as it can burn quickly in the pan. The white section of the scallion is more aromatic than the green part. Cut it into short sections. Reserve the green section for garnishing and as a topping for various dishes.
b. Zucchini (courgette)
Fresh zucchini usually is deep green, though it can be golden yellow. I use one green and one yellow zucchini, which makes this dish more aesthetically pleasing.
- Cut off both ends of the zucchini. There is no need to peel the skin.
- I quartered it lengthwise to remove part of the seeds. You may retain the seeds, but that is my preference.
- Cut the zucchini into one-inch slices at an angle, so the zucchini pieces look bigger. Another way is to cut it into wedges.
c. Wood ear fungus 木耳
木 means wood, and 耳 means ear in Chinese. Wood ear fungus (also called wood ear mushroom) is an edible jelly fungus widely used in Chinese cooking. It is sold in the dried form and, after being rehydrated, has a crunchy texture. It has little taste itself, and people like it because they appreciate the unique crunchy mouthfeel.
Wood ear fungus is not the main item in this zucchini recipe, but having it is preferable as it offers another texture when eating. It also has a dark grey color that contrasts with the bright and fresh color of the vegetables, which adds marks to the presentation.
Place the wood fungus in water for thirty minutes or until it is fully hydrated. It will expand to at least double its original volume. Cut it into thin strips.
Cloud ear fungus (mushroom) 云耳 is another substitute for wood ear fungus. It is closely related to wood ear fungus with a similar texture, thinner, and slippery mouthfeel.
c. Other fresh ingredients
Carrot is of secondary importance, but I will certainly recommend including it in the recipe. What a colorful combination of carrot, green and yellow zucchini, white flesh, and dark grey wood ear fungus!
Cut off both ends of the carrot, peel off the skin, and then cut it into two-inch sections on the bias. Next, slice the carrot lengthwise thinly.
Bell peppers are commonly added to the zucchini as they provide a similar color scheme and slightly different textures. I left out the bell pepper in this recipe to keep it simple.
4. Blanch the zucchini and carrot
Not everyone blanches the zucchini and carrot before stir-frying. You can stir-fry a little longer, and the vegetables will eventually become soft and tender.
However, I blanch the vegetable due on two reasons:
- The zucchini is more crunchy, and the color is brighter if I blanch it until al dente, then shock it with cold water.
- Some reports mentioned that stir-frying zucchini at high heat would produce carcinogenic chemicals. Although the carcinogen is minimal (less than potato chips), I feel more comfortable keeping the stir-frying only briefly. You can read more details here.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the zucchini and carrots in boiling water for about one minute or until the water return to boil again. Remove and place them in a large pot of cold water to cool the vegetables immediately. When they return to room temperature, drain and set aside.
5. Stir fry the zucchini over medium heat
The stir-frying steps come quickly, so get everything ready to keep things flowing at stir-fry time.
- Saute the ginger, garlic, and scallion with oil over low to medium heat in a wok or a large skillet until aromatic. High heat can burn the garlic.
- Add the soaked wood fungus and stir-fry for half a minute.
- Pour the blanched carrot and zucchini slices into the pan, and stir-fry over medium-high heat for one minute.
- The seasonings should keep simple, as zucchini has a mild but refreshing flavor. Season the vegetable lightly with oyster sauce, salt, and sugar, not too much to overshadow zucchini’s natural flavor.
- Return the pan-fried chicken to the pan. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for half a minute.
- Consider adding some red chili flakes at this point according to the spice level you prefer.
- Prepare cornstarch slurry with 1 tsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp of water. Drizzle into the pan and keep stirring until the starch is cooked. The purpose of the cornstarch is to thicken the sauce. Stop adding once it thickens. Otherwise, the stir fry will become too sticky and gooey.
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions on top, which is optional, then dish out and serve.
Related recipes for zucchini stir-fry
If you like this chicken zucchini stir fry, you will most likely like the following healthy recipes.
Chicken and broccoli stir-fry is quick to prepare within half an hour. It is the perfect dish when you are short of time or suddenly craving Chinese takeout.
Stir-fry adds a whole new dimension to your plain vegetables. Try this vegetable stir fry with broccoli, cauliflowers, carrot, and snow peas.
Bok choy stir fry might be downright simple, but it is deceptively tricky to recreate the iconic wok aroma like those from the restaurant. This recipe will show you all the detail of how to make it.
- 400g chicken breast meat
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp vegetable soil
- 700g zucchini (green and yellow one each)
- 5 slices ginger, cut into thin slices
- Five cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped scallion, white section
- 70g carrot, slice thinly
- 10g wood mushroom 木耳, cut into strips
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cornstarch (mixed with 1 tbsp water to form a slurry)
For the chicken:
- Cut the chicken breast meat into thin slices.
- Marinate with other ingredients in A for thirty minutes or longer.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Pan-fry the breast meat over low heat until lightly brown on both sides. Set aside.
For the vegetables:
- Cut off both ends of the zucchini. Quartered it lengthwise, remove part of the seeds, then cut it into one-inch slices.
- Soak the wood fungus for thirty minutes or until fully hydrated, then cut it into thin strips.
- Blanch the zucchini and carrots in boiling water for one minute, drain.
- Saute the ginger, garlic, and scallion with oil until aromatic. Add the soaked wood fungus, then the blanched carrots and zucchini, and stir-fry over medium heat for one minute.
- Season with oyster sauce, salt, and sugar.
- Return the pan-fried chicken to the pan.
- Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch slurry, Dish out and serve.
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Premium Dried All Natural Compressed Chinese Auricularia Black Fungus Mushroom (Black Wood Ear Mushroom) - 8.8 Oz -- 10 Times Volume Yield After Soaking
Rice Cooking Wine (Red) - 750ml (Pack of 1) by Shaohsing
Lee Kum Kee Premium Light Soy Sauce - 150ml (5.27 fl oz)
GreenLife CW002044-002 Healthy Nonstick Dishwasher Oven Safe Sta Soft Grip Diamond Reinforced 8" Ceramic Non-Stick Open Frypan, 8-Inch, Black
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 1240mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 47g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 4/14/2021