There’s something about Chinese food – at least the Americanized version of the cuisine – that causes the deepest, most powerful food cravings. Perhaps it’s the overabundance of saucy sodium and lip-licking savory flavors, all layered atop a pillowy bed of fluffy white rice or slurp-worthy noodles. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of knowing that eating those veggies underneath the crispy fried bits of meat smothered in sauce does count as your daily intake of vegetables, other unhealthy factors aside. Whatever the cause of this addiction, it’s irrelevant. It only matters that I be able to fuel it when the craving calls.
The above description of crave-worthy Chinese food is primarily directed at the cheapest of takeout options. You know the type – the late night purchase, eaten from an oil-soaked carton with wooden chopsticks, drizzled in extra packets of soy sauce. These meals are delicious when consumed sparingly over the course of time. In our case, we’ll opt for takeout only a few times a year when the stars align right: the hankering hits, there’s nothing in the fridge, or we’ve eaten healthy enough to have earned a meal of sodium-packed sin. After the last bite, our bodies immediately revolt, cursing us for having put such cheap, oil-soaked ingredients in our bodies.
To remedy this and still satisfy the cravings, we make a stir fry from our own kitchen. While it’s not the same as the contents of said oil-soaked cartons, it is a perfectly satisfying and delicious creation for a non-Chinese restaurant kitchen. It’s incredibly easy to make, cheap, and the perfect excuse to clean out the vegetables that have been lurking in your refrigerator crisper for days, sitting on the brink of expiration.
For this recipe, I had 3/4 of a rotisserie chicken sitting in the fridge, as well as an assortment of broccoli, baby carrots, and mushrooms. With a 4-day Thanksgiving trip ahead of us, I wanted to clean out the contents of the refrigerator and avoid the expensive and unhealthy takeout experience. To get the takeout flavor of Chinese food at home, you really only need soy sauce and white sesame oil (which you still could omit if it’s not on hand). I simply mixed vegetable oil with a dab of sesame oil, and sauteed the veggies with hearty onion strips until they softened down. A simple mixture of soy sauce, chicken broth, and corn starch makes an easy and tasty sauce that you toss into the veggies, along with finely shredded chicken. Layer the finished product atop a bed of easy white rice, and settle in for a comforting takeout-style dish at a fraction of the price (and caloric intake).
You can use pretty much any other vegetable that you have on hand – bell peppers, snow peas, water chestnuts, cauliflower, eggplants, you name it… Omit the chicken completely for a vegetarian dish, or substitute it with tofu for a heartier vegetarian option.
Easy Chicken Stir Fry
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon white sesame oil (optional)
- 1 yellow onion halved and sliced into thin strips
- 1 ginger grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup carrots diced
- 1 1/2 cups sliced bella mushrooms
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
- Heat the oils in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add the broccoli, carrots, and mushroom and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger. Continue cooking until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes more, or until the broccoli is bright green and slightly soft.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, chicken broth, and cornstarch. Pour over the vegetable mixture and toss to combine. Add the chicken and mix in well.
- Layer the stir fry mixture on top of a bed of cooked white Jasmine rice.
- You can easily substitute or add any other vegetables you have on hand, such as bell peppers, snow peas, or water chestnuts.
- Omit the chicken if you want to make this vegetarian friendly.