Chicken Stir-Fry (serves 6)

There are all kinds of interpretations of this dish. When I fry chicken with ingredients like soy sauce and rice I refer to it as some version of  Chinese chicken stir-fry?  I have never been to China and only learned about what goes into the food through cookbooks and visits to places like Chinatown in NYC. Like most Westerners, I suppose I have a general idea of what the food should taste like, but if I were standing at a stall in a market in China I would be confused and mesmerized.

I grew up eating food that couldn’t have been more different from the food cooked in China or by Chinese people in other countries. For example, I never added sugar to a savory dish (besides a little to tomato sauces) until I started experimenting with recipes in cookbooks. I thought sugar was for baking! Which leads me to why I wanted to cook a stir-Fry tonight in the first place….I read about Chinese rock Sugar and how it is used to enhance the flavor of various sauces. I of course wanted to try it, instead of using brown sugar and white sugar? I had to mail order it.

It turned out to be plain old rock candy or rock sugar but I thought it was special because it came in an odd plastic bag from a factory in Hong Kong! It is made from sugar, molasses and water. I used it in my sauce tonight and felt very authentic when I casually tossed a lump or two of  Rock Sugar into my pan and watched it dissolve. I thought this was a great dish. It did not have many ingredients but the combination of soy, mirin, ginger, cinnamon and rock sugar gave it lovely flavor with a mild cinnamon-y sweetness.

My bag of Rock Sugar

You will need: 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (chopped), 6 scallions, 1 1/2 tbs grated ginger, 1/2 cup mirin (Chinese rice wine), 1 small onion, 6 garlic cloves, 8 oz white mushrooms, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tbs cornstarch (cornflour), 1 1/2 tbs Chinese Rock sugar ( I wasn’t able to crush it so I just took a couple of lumps that I thought made up the amount?), 3 tbs peanut oil. 2 1/2 cups raw basmati rice (or 3 cups of rice from your rice-cooker measure), Raw Thai chillies (optional for garnish -I wanted this dish to be kid-friendly so did not add to dish chopped at the same time as the onions – but feel free to do so if everyone likes heat)

combine ginger, scallions & mirin before adding chicken..

In a big bowl combine the grated ginger, mirin and sliced scallions and add chopped chicken. Mix everything together and let it sit on your counter-top while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Dice onion, slice mushrooms thinly and finely chop garlic. Put rice on to cook either on the stove-top or rice-cooker.

let chicken sit in marinade while prepping everything else..

Put a big pan on medium/high heat on stove-top and add oil. When the oil is very hot add the onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and turn heat up to high. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes before adding the chicken to the pan. Stir the chicken into the vegetables and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add soy sauce and cook for another minute before adding the water.

Let everything come to a simmer, turn down the heat to low, cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Take lid off and add the rock sugar and stir to dissolve. Mix a little water with the corn starch and mix into a paste. Add to the chicken mixture and let cook for another minute or two until the cornstarch cooks into the dish. If using the chillies fry in a little saute pan with some peanut oil until a little brown on all sides (about 4 minutes)

Very easy, bursting with flavor dinner!

At this point turn off your pan and serve with rice on the side OR, add the rice to the pan and serve all at the same time. Top with a few chillies if using .

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