“Jeunes filles dans la cuisines, jeunes filles dans la cuisines”. Each time he said it his voice would get louder and his head would shake from side to side. I remember it like it was yesterday, particularly his tone and his French accent. And even though he said it with a look of mischief in his eyes, I knew there was truth in it for him. I didn’t give the idea of “young girls in the kitchen” a second thought. Even though the year was 1985, I was at cooking school in Paris and it was a time when female chefs running restaurant kitchens was not the norm.
Role reversals are an interesting thing, though, especially when they apply to who is doing the cooking. At our house, I have taken on the majority cooking dinner while my husband and I raised our kids. Primarily because I love to cook and I was professionally trained. Also my freelance work is done out of our home, so by default I was near the kitchen when the dreaded hour of what to cook for dinner rolled around.
But my husband has several recipes in his cooking repertoire and I love it when he cooks them. I believe that anyone, male or female, who does not do the majority of the regular cooking in the house needs a few “go-to” recipes that are easy, reliable and good enough to impress.
That is why I am sharing my husband’s recipe for chicken stir-fry with you. It’s inspired from his family’s recipe so it’s embedded with good food memories, an excellent place to start for a signature dish. What I like the most is the ingredients are fresh and cook quickly – just long enough to be crisp tender and the sauce is store bought so it goes together faster than having to make your own.
Anyone familiar with my husband knows he is particular – almost to a fault – so he would proclaim you can’t leave any of the ingredients out in this recipe. They are all important. Especially the fresh ginger and the bean sprouts. His choice of store bought sauce is Sun Luck Cantonese-Style Stir Fry Sauce. Trust him on that one as he has done his research.
Depending on your knife skills, the chopping should take you about 20-25 minutes and the cooking about 10. So all in you’re looking at about 35 minutes to get dinner on the table. And don’t forget to start the rice when you begin cutting the vegetables so it will be done at the same time as the stir-fry.
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound thinly sliced chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (1/2 pound)
- 1 cup sliced red or green pepper (1 medium pepper)
- 1 cup angle sliced celery or bok choy (about 3 stalks)
- 1 cup snap peas, sliced in half lengthwise at an angle (about ¼ pound)
- 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained
- ½ pound bean sprouts
- 3 tablespoons stir-fry sauce (he prefers Sun Luck Cantonese-Style)
- Cooked rice
- In a wok or a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add chicken and push around to make a single layer in the pan; allow cooking 2-3 minutes; add garlic and ginger and cook and stir until softened, about 1 minute. Add the onion and cook and stir until softened about 2 minutes; add mushrooms, pepper, and celery and cook and stir just until softened about 2 minutes. Add snap peas, water chestnuts and bean sprouts and cook and stir just to heat through, about 2 minutes. Add the sauce and cook and stir to coat the ingredients evenly, about 2 minutes.
- Serve with cooked rice.