This dish is great for all the family, and especially loved by kids, as the sweet and savory aromatic flavors give their taste buds just the kick they need if they have a sweet tooth after school, plus it’s packed with protein and vitamins, so you know they’re getting a delicious, well balanced meal.
And you know the best bit of all, it’s dead simple to make. In fact, you can prepare much of this the night before, once the kids have gone to bed.
With a stir-fry, successful marinating means having all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you actually start the cooking is of the utmost importance. Meat should be sliced or diced, vegetables chopped, sauces mixed, and aromatics minced, all before you turn up that heat.
But there’s another secret that will improve both the flavor and the texture and protect the proteins in your meat: proper marinating. When done right, a marinade is more than just a flavoring agent. It can help tenderize meat and alter its proteins so that it retains more moisture. It can also improve the browning characteristics that are the goal of high-heat cooking. It can also help it absorb other flavors more easily. So this is a real good method of cooking oriental dishes and getting the maximum nutrients and benefit from the food.
Because of the very nature of marinating, this is best prepared the night before so that get all of the flavors infused into the meat, and have all the vegetables washed and chopped ready for when the heat is on once you get cooking.
Before we head into the recipe, we’re going to give you some extra tips on bulking out dish to make this stretch further on a budget to keep your ravenous little ones satisfied.
Buying the chicken
Now you really don’t need to go and buy best chicken breast for this. In fact, you’ll get much more flavor from the meat if you go for something like chicken thighs. Get boneless chicken if you’re not confident of boning, or get your local butcher to bone them for you. Thighs are less expensive and the darker meat is much more tasty.
Plus, from the bones, you’ll get a great chicken stock that you can use with this dish to moisten, or put some stock by in a food saver and freeze it to use in another meal.
Buying the marinade ingredients
For this recipe, no special or difficult to find Asian ingredients need to be purchased so it won’t work out to be an expensive dish. You can pick up all of the ingredients in your local store, or you probably have them in your kitchen already.
Although many people prefer to cook with fresh ingredients, you can get great preserved products these days in larger stores, like jars of lazy ginger and lazy chilies or puree versions in tubes. The ‘lazy’ products have the double benefit of not just saving you preparation time, but also allowing you to store the jar in the refrigerator for another meal (but check the storage instructions as they may just keep for days rather than weeks).
Many of the ingredients below in our recipe are optional and can be left out or replaced according to your taste, but the basic marinade ingredients are a must.
This recipe serves 4 standard helpings, so adjust the amount of ingredients down or up, according to numbers and appetite. And add any more ingredients or flavors that you wish.
Ingredients (serves 4)
Boneless and skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (either 3 breasts or 6 thighs)
4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce*
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided (or 2 teaspoons of lazy garlic)
1 teaspoon ginger, grated (or 1 teaspoon of lazy ginger)
1 tablespoon honey
small pinch of red pepper flakes **
2 tablespoons rice vinegar **
1 tablespoon peanut oil **
1 small onion, chopped
Half a green or red cabbage
Some fresh broccoli florets
8 ounces snow peas **
8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained **
Noodles (dried egg noodles)
* optional, use gluten free soy sauce
** optional ingredients, can be omitted or replaced with alternatives
How to Prepare It
- Ensure the meat is not too wet, by lying in some kitchen paper. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Put to the side.
TIP: Too much water on the meat will dilute your marinade mixture and so your flavors will not be enhanced as they should be.
- Get a large bowl or dish and put the sesame oil, soy sauce, 1 clove (or teaspoon) of garlic, red pepper flakes, ginger and the honey into the dish. Mix well with a whisk, fork or slotted spoon so that all the ingredients are even mixed together.
TIP: Marinate your meat in a bowl that’s big enough for mixing. You don’t want a bowl that just perfectly holds your sliced protein. You’ll be mixing ingredients around, so make sure you have room for the meat to move.
- Add the chicken pieces to the mixture, ensuring all pieces are evenly covered in the marinade.
- Cover the bowl, and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight and let the flavors infuse into the chicken
- At this point, you can prepare and wash the snow peas, broccoli and cabbage.
- Cut broccoli florets into thin sprigs.
- Cut or shred the cabbage into ribbons.
- Pat all the vegetables dry and place them in a covered container in the refrigerator.
- Chop up the onion and get ready the other 1 clove (or 1 lazy teaspoon) of garlic.
- Heat a little cooking oil in a large pan or a wok, and add the onion. Cook on a medium heat until the onion softens.
- Add the marinated chicken from the bowl you prepared earlier. Turn up the heat to medium-high and the let the chicken sizzle and lighly brown, while regularly stirring and turning the chicken pieces until cooked through.
TIP: It’s important not to allow too much of the marinade liquid get into the pan at this stage. Too much liquid will result in a steamed meat, rather than a stir-fried meat and will completely alter the texture and absorption of the aromatics you may want to add in later.
- At this point, you’re ready to add your noodles to a separate pan of boiling water. Turn off the heat once boiling, and let the noodles stand for 5 minutes.
- Add the remainder of the garlic to your marinated chicken and stir through.
TIP: With any aromatic ingredients, whether it’s garlic, pepper, or lemongrass, add these in towards the end of the cooking period as the high heat of stir fry cooking will burn off the beautiful aromas too quickly.
- Add all of your chosen vegetables to the marinated chicken (snow peas, broccoli, water chestnuts, cabbage) and continue to toss and coat in among the mixture, taking care not to allow the vegetables to over-soften.
- When your noodles are soft, drain thoroughly.
Serve the noodles on warmed dinner plates or bowls, before scooping the marinated chicken and vegetable mixture over the top. Allow any excess marinade to drizzle over the noodles.
Alternatively, toss the cooked noodles in the marinated chicken mixture into the wok or pan, so that all the ingredients are mixed together at the end of cooking period, then serve on warmed plates or bowls.
For a finishing touch, get some appetizers like a bag of ready-made prawn crackers, or sesame toast as accompaniments and some sweet chili dipping sauce in side bowls.
The kids will love it.
If this hits on as a favorite in your family, why not cook a bigger batch and make use of the leftovers. It’s great in tortilla wraps for lunch the next day.