After cooking all that Mexican food I had a hankering for something completely different, and I was in luck because I had picked up some fun ingredients when I was in Chinatown a few weeks ago for dim sum with my gals Eva and Nicole. Specifically, I had finally gotten my hands on thin, authentic rice noodles, which I don’t think are hard to find in general, I just don’t like the ones at my local grocery store.
I knew a stir-fry was in order and, as much as I wanted to use tofu, I knew Doug would throw a hissy fit, so I decided to go with chicken instead. And with so many vegetables in season right now, I had to incorporate as many of them into the stir-fry as possible: garlic, ginger, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and green onions. I would have thrown in some water chestnuts too if Doug didn’t despise them so much.
The key to a good stir-fry is in the prep, or as we call it in the culinary world, mise en place. Everything needs to be chopped, sliced and marinated before you start cooking so that once you do everything can go smoothly. Believe me, it’s the best way to go since stir-fry comes together so quickly. If you want to save time, buy the vegetables pre-chopped from the salad bar or veggie section of your supermarket.
I think the other important thing to remember with Chinese food is that cornstarch is often used as a sauce thickener. Cornstarch not only bring sauces together in Chinese food, it’s also what gives stir-fries (and fruit pies) their glossy sheen. It’s important to whisk the cornstarch into COLD liquid—this is what culinarians call a slurry—and then add the slurry to simmering liquid to activate the thickening agents in the cornstarch. Tapioca starch and arrowroot are ingredients you can sub in for cornstarch if you’d like.
Lastly, you can make this as spicy as you want with the addition of Sriracha Hot Sauce (aka rooster or cock sauce) or Huy Fong Garlic-Chile Sauce, both of which you should be able to find in the Asian aisle of your supermarket. So, go ahead, get wokin’!
Chinese Stir-Fried Chicken and Noodles
Preparing all of your ingredients first here is absolutely necessary so you can bring the stir fry together quickly. You can even prep all of the vegetables beforehand, refrigerate them, and combine everything when your crowd arrives. Click here to download a printable copy of this recipe.
¼ c. low-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs. chili-garlic sauce
½ tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1.5 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks
For Stir Fry:
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs. minced ginger
1 carrot, julienned (i.e., cut into little matchsticks)
1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
8 oz. cremini mushroom, cleaned and sliced
1 package of rice noodles or any other dried Asian noodles
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 (32 oz.) box of chicken stock
5 green onions, sliced on the bias
1 Tbs. chili-garlic paste, optional
Cilantro, chopped for garnish
Make the marinade. Combine all of the marinade ingredients except the chicken in a medium bowl. Taste the marinade for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Add the chicken to the marinade, toss to coat, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Sauté the chicken. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat with 2 Tbs. olive oil. When the oil is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Sauté the chicken in batches until brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes, and set aside on a clean plate.
Stir-fry the veggies. In the same pan set over medium-high heat, add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add more oil to the pan as necessary as you’re sautéing. Then, add the carrots and sauté 1 minute; add the peppers, and sauté 2 minutes; add the onions, season the veggie mixture with salt, and sauté for 2 more minutes. Next, add the broccoli, sauté for 2 minutes; add the mushrooms, sauté for 2 more minutes. Remove the sautéed veggies from the pan onto a clean bowl or plate. Place the same pan back over medium-high heat.
Add cornstarch to the reserved marinade. Whisk 1 Tbs. cornstarch into the reserved marinade. Add the marinade to the hot pan, and bring to a boil.
Soften noodles. Add the noodles to the hot marinade in batches, adding enough chicken stock to the pan to almost submerge the noodles. Press the dried noodles down into the marinade-stock mixture until they soften. Then repeat the process by putting more dried noodles into the pan, followed by more chicken stock as needed to soften the noodles. The cornstarch in the marinade will help to thicken the sauce, so don’t worry about using too much chicken stock. When all the noodles have been softened, taste the noodles. If you’d like a stronger flavor, add soy sauce 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the desired saltiness.
Finish the stir-fry. Add the chicken and the vegetables back to the pan, as well as the green onions and garlic-chili paste, if desired. Toss everything together, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.