Thursday, April 16, 2009

A bold stir-fry with delicate spring greens


In the last several months I've moved away from stir-fries containing meat. Most of the shift was due to a conscious effort to eat less meat (for environmental, ethical, and economical reasons), but in truth it was also because meaty stir-fries inevitably leave my nice, clean stovetop with a film of splattered oil. I don't have a nice, deep wok to help contain the spitting-hot oil, and even though I use a splatter screen, I always have quite a clean-up job on my hands. There are a lot of kitchen chores that I don't mind much at all, even some that I actually enjoy doing. Cleaning the stove is not one of them.

But sometimes it's worth it. Like this time. Any dish that prompts your usually taciturn dining companion to announce unprompted, "I could eat this all day" is worth at least one stove cleaning, and possibly two. The same goes for any dish that gets the Suitor to eat leafy greens, so this one's a winner on two counts.


The greens in this dish (and in the picture above) are baby tatsoi, fresh from today's CSA box and probably fresh from the field just this morning. They're so small and delicate that I felt a little guilty chopping them up and putting them in something as brash as a stir-fry, but I can't say I'm sorry that I did. This dish would also work with other greens, such as bok choy or "baby bok choy" (which my CSA folks tell me is actually tatsoi, but that's neither here nor there), though I recommend that you adjust the cooking times/schedule to suit the size and thickness of your greens and their stalks.

Full recipe below the fold.

As with all dishes that move quickly once you get going, mise en place is a must if you want your food unburned, your smoke alarm untriggered, and your sanity intact. If you're serving this with rice, and I recommend that you do, I suggest that you give the rice a head start. That way it's all ready to go by the time you heat up the skillet. Don't be intimidated by the length of the ingredient list--it doesn't take that long to measure them out. In any case, if you don't want to be precise about things, a little more or less here and there won't hurt anything.

Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken with Tatsoi and Ginger

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated*
Serves 3-4


  1. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  2. 1/2 cup sake or dry sherry, divided
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 1/4 cup chicken broth
  5. 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  6. 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  7. 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  8. 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  9. 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or to taste
  10. 1/4 minced fresh ginger, divided
  11. 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  12. peanut or vegetable oil
  13. 1 pound tatsoi or similar greens (e.g. bok choy), stalks cut into 1/4-inch slices and greens cut into 1/2-inch strips
  14. 1 medium carrot or 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices on the bias
  15. 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into pieces 1 inch square and 1/4 inch thick


  1. Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sake, and water in medium bowl. Add chicken and stir to combine. Cover and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
  2. In another medium bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons sesame oil; whisk until smooth. Drain chicken well and toss with cornstarch mixture until evenly coated.
  3. In a small bowl, combine broth, remaining 1/4 cup sake, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, oyster sauce, remaining teaspoon sesame oil, remaining teaspoon cornstarch, sugar, red pepper flakes, and half of minced ginger. Whisk to combine; set aside.
  4. Combine garlic, remaining ginger, and 2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl; set aside.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in large skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of chicken to skillet in one layer, spacing evenly and being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook, without stirring, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Turn and cook until golden on second side, 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. Using slotted spoon, remove chicken and place in a clean bowl. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and remaining chicken.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet (which should now be empty) and heat until just smoking. Add carrot slices and stir-fry until beginning to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add tatsoi stalks and stir-fry until beginning to brown.
  7. Create a clearing in center of skillet and add ginger-garlic-oil mixture. Cook, stirring, until very fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir to combine with carrot and stalks, then add tatsoi greens and stir until beginning to wilt, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  8. Return chicken to skillet. Whisk sauce to recombine, and add sauce to skillet, adding a few tablespoons of water if sauce reduces too quickly. Cook, stirring, until chicken is heated through and sauce is thickened, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

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katie schoe said...

The photos are great and I want you to come down here and make that stirfry -- it looks delicious.

TBM said...

Oh my gosh, that looks delicious! What a beautiful photo, too :-)

Anonymous said...

Very very yummy looking!

I'm sure it was enjoyed by all.

Bee said...

Thank you for this --
it must be yummy if the Suitor gives it such high praise!

Anne said...

Thanks, all. :)