January 04, 2013
style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"> Welcome back to
the kitchen! This week’s food foray stems from a specific food craving that hit me the other night. Now, I
will readily admit that many of my food cravings fall into the comfort, junk, or certainly less than healthy
because I’m still coming down off the mad sugar and fats rush of the holiday season, I am craving some green
things. Specifically I found myself wanting broccoli complimented by the bite of ginger. Something sort of Asian
was tickling at my imaginary palette, with promises of a quick, easy, healthy, tasty, and ethnic meal.
style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"> Now, we’ve
certainly done stir fry dishes in the past. And I’m sure we will do them again. This is because I love Asian
flavors, and I love quick yet elegant one dish meals. But instead of the general throw everything you’ve got
into the wok kind of stir frys I’ve done in the past, the more I thought about this meal the more I wanted
to recreate the classic Chinese American dish of chicken and broccoli, which along with egg foo yung was my
favorite Chinese food dish as a kid.
a simple dish without too many exotic ingredients. Of course, you can add whatever additional veggies you want,
complimented by a sweet, tangy, savory and garlicky brown sauce. I particularly like how the sauce clings to the
broccoli flourettes and oozes out all that delicious flavor when you bite in.
any will do (or none if you prefer, we actually tend to eat far more protein each day than we actually need). For
a very healthy dish, go fully veggie and use some tofu for the protein. Skinless white meat chicken and most
seafoods are nice and healthy (although sadly, some things like shrimp have a deceptively high amount of
cholesterol). Pork can also be fairly lean and delicious, and beef and broccoli is another Chinese classic that is
delicious but probably less healthy than those other options.
a bit as I work towards a healthier new year, so I’m going to use lean chicken breast and fill up on plenty
of vegetables. I will also try to use a bit less oil than some traditional recipes call for. And finally, I will
serve my Chinese chicken and broccoli over whole grain brown rice instead of white, which is better for you on a
number of levels.
approximately copy that yummy Chinese takeout flavor. But, surprisingly, a wok is not actually one of them.
America’s Test Kitchen, an organization I very much respect, recommends against using a wok at home. This is
because the rounded bottom of the wok is meant to sit on top of thousand degree flames that lick up the sides of
the pan and cook everything incredibly quickly.
easily achievable at home, although I have heard of people frying a wok perched atop a blazing charcoal chimney.
That might work, but it also strikes me as kind of precarious and dangerous. Instead, I’m going to take the
test kitchen recommendation and use my largest flat bottom non-stick pan, because unlike the wok a larger part of
the surface will be in contact with the hot burner, and things will cook more evenly and quickly. Hopefully this
way we can avoid the pitfalls of a soggy stir fry.
Chinese take out is actually a spoonful or two of humble cornstarch. This is not a particularly sexy ingredient,
but it is critical. You see, the cornstarch thickens the sauce and allows it to stick to the chicken and broccoli.
It also adds a certain amount of slipperiness that might sound gross, but is a big part of Chinese-American
cuisine. Other than that, the ingredients are pretty simple. I’m going to reduce the sweeteners that most
recipes call for by just a bit, and wing the recipe a little. But basically, for home made Chinese American
chicken with broccoli, we will need:
sure I ended up using more than a pound of broccoli in my dish, because it was the main ingredient I was craving)
this size), sliced into thin strips
sliced into strips
"margin: 0in 0in 0pt">-about 1 inch or so of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into very thin
tablespoon soy sauce plus more to taste
style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">-1 teaspoon sugar
rice to steam while we make up this chicken with broccoli, Chinese take out style. We are going to cook the
vegetables separately from the chicken, then toss it all together with the sauce and the corn starch to thicken it
all up into a delicious meal.
want to do this on a nice high heat. Maybe not quite full blast, but somewhere up near the high end. So we want to
have all our ingredients chopped and ready to go before we start. Let’s also mix the soy sauce, hoisen
sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar in a small bowl or cup until the sugar dissolves. You can add the sriracha hot
chili sauce in there too if you’d like, or save it aside for more timid eaters. Sometimes I will also
squeeze some fresh lime into this sauce as well, although it is not necessarily a traditional flavor. If you do
not have oyster or hoisen sauce, a splash of that classically stinky but oh so delicious fermented fish sauce
would make a great addition. When the sauce is mixed, set it aside.
it is nice and hot. Start out by sautéing the carrots, as they will take the longest to cook. Stir the
carrots fairly constantly for about 2 minutes, until they just begin to soften.
broccoli along with the chopped garlic and sliced ginger. Stir everything for another 4 minutes or so, until the
broccoli changes to a darker green but is not over cooked. It will continue to soften even once it is off the
heat. Turn down the heat to medium low and stir in the sauce. Pull the pan off the heat and set aside.
style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt"> In a separate pan
heat up another teaspoon or so of oil on medium high and add the sliced chicken. Sautee, stirring frequently,
until the pieces are just cooked but still tender. I like to splash on just a little bit of the sauce or some
extra soy sauce on the chicken as well, just to give it a little umami flavor while it cooks and so it is not too
When the chicken is cooked, add it to the pan of sautéed broccoli and other veggies. Mix together the warm
water with the cornstarch, making sure it is very well mixed. Pour this thickening slurry into the pan and bring
it back up to a medium or medium high heat, stirring constantly for just a minute or so until the sauce is nice
and thick and smooth.
off the cuff take on Chinese takeout chicken and broccoli. If timed correctly, and that is the big trick here, the
onions should be tender and cooked all the way through, but the broccoli should still be vibrant and fresh. It may
take a little experimentation with your stove’s particular heat to get that just right. But in any case,
this is a delicious dish. And pretty simple once you get the concept down.
steamed brown rice, making sure to spoon on plenty of that nice sauce. Yum! And I swear, this dish tastes better
you’ve been playing around with. Send me any questions or comments to Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-