What better way to celebrate Chinese New Year than with a home-cooked feast? Elliot shares one of his go-to Chinese-inspired recipes – quick and easy enough to make on a weeknight, and delicious when reheated for a low-effort lunch the next day.
Now that the Chinese New Year (Happy Year of the Pig!) has begun, it’s the perfect time to learn about Chinese cuisine!
Stir-frying is a batch-cooking technique, which involves frying food by constantly stirring, in small quantities of extremely hot oil – traditionally in a wok. The technique began to gain traction in China in the mid-1300s and was popularly practiced by the mid-1600s (also known as the Ming Dynasty). Its appealing balance of protein, vegetables, and very light sauce makes this an easy and complete meal which maintains a reasonable calorie count – students will find it a reliable and forgiving fall-back, as the protein and vegetables combinations can be altered to fit your tastes and nutritional needs.
This recipe is perfect for using up extra celery, and pairs well with sweet sticky spicy tofu –refrigerated leftovers for both will keep very well into the next day. A very hot pan will work well in place of a wok. Bear in mind that olive oil will not work, since its low smoke point will cause it to burn and bitter well before you are done cooking- vegetable oil or any other high smoke-point oil is recommended.
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 bunch celery
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp Chinese cooking wine (or any white wine)
1 large piece ginger
1 clove garlic
1 shallot (1/2 onion can be substituted)
1/3 cup chicken stock
½ tbsp soy sauce
- Cut chicken breast into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Cut ginger into 3 large slices – dice one, and reserve the other two.
- Combine chicken pieces with: diced ginger; sugar; salt; cornstarch; wine. Mix well, and leave in a bowl to marinate (minimum 30 minutes)
- Cut ends off celery, wash thoroughly, and separate stalks– slice each stalk in half lengthwise, and cut each into 2-3 inch pieces.
- Wash and peel carrot – slice half lengthwise, and cut halves into thin (1/2 – 1cm) slices.
- Peel and finely dice or crush garlic.
- Finely dice shallot.
- Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil on high until just smoking. Add first ginger slice, and 1 large pinch of salt.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
- Add celery and carrots and cook, stirring constantly until tender (about 5 minutes). Discard ginger, and remove vegetables to a separate plate.
- Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil until just smoking. Add second ginger slice, shallots, and garlic. Stir for less than 1 minute (until garlic is fragrant), and immediately add chicken.
- Stir chicken and aromatics until evenly coated in oil, and chicken has all changed color (about 6-8 minutes).
- Add soy sauce, and mix evenly into chicken and vegetables. Reduce heat to medium high.
- Add stock, mix thoroughly, and allow to reduce by half, forming a clear sauce.
- Add cooked carrot and celery mixture, discarding any accumulated juices (adding this will make the dish overly salty). Toss to coat all vegetables and chicken in sauce. Discard ginger.
- Serve over rice or noodles.