Fiery Chinese Chao Stir-Fry

Chinese food & culture has been an integral part of the American landscape since 1849, (that’s 172-years ago!), first appearing in San Francisco with the infamous Canton Restaurant. This west coast restaurant would quickly pave the path for many others to follow and flourish in the emerging neighborhoods. In today’s era, we have certainly come to think of American Chinese restaurants as a neighborhood staple, existing in just about every corner of this country.

Why have I taken the time to share this piece of history with you? Well, simply, I have decided to take a rather iconic and simple Chinese cooking method, stir-fry or chao, and incorporate one of my signature sweet habanero sauces into the mix. It’s easy and fun and I hope you’ll join me!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Stir-Fry Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken breasts (1-2 skinless & boneless), sliced into equal pieces

  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed

  • ½ cup broccoli, trimmed florets

  • ½ cup carrots, sliced thinly

  • ½ cup red peppers, chopped coarsely

  • ½ cup yellow or vidalia onion, sliced

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced diagonally

  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil

  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth

  • 2-3 Tbsp Tannenbaum’s - Pineapple, Rosemary & Turmeric

  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce - shoyu or tamari

  • 2 tsp cornstarch

  • 2 Tbsp water

  • Parsley & lime slices for garnish - optional

Stir-Fry is a method of cooking that requires high heat while incorporating aromatic flavors introduced at various phases of cooking. This recipe is executed best with a wok but the everyday sauté pan will certainly produce yummy results too.

Using a clean cutting board, slice chicken into smaller bite sized pieces. It’s ideal to have these pieces match in size and portion so they cook evenly. In a medium sized bowl, place chicken pieces and 2-3 Tbsp of Tannenbaum’s - Pineapple, Rosemary & Turmeric. Mix chicken in sauce until it’s evenly coated, cover and place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before cooking. The longer the chicken sits in this delightful sauce, the better.

Chop Chop Chop!

I would recommend chopping the vegetables included in this recipe before you tackle any of the cooking steps, ensuring everything is ready for the fast-paced steps ahead. Begin by cleaning your vegetables and placing each on a chopping board. Trim the fresh green beans on both ends and set aside. Remove broccoli florets from stalk and set aside. Take (1) red pepper, removing the stem and seeds, coarsely chop into several pieces and set aside. Peel 1 medium carrot and slice thinly, about a quarter of an inch, and set aside. Now for the onion; remove both ends and slice in half (from end to end). Remove the skins from the onion, exposing a fresh layer of eye-watering onion aroma. Starting from one edge, perpendicular to the stem ends that were removed first, slice onion thinly and set aside. You will most likely only use half of the onion you sliced. Take the garlic cloves and crush, slightly, to remove skin and trim ends. Either using a tool to mince or by hand, mince garlic and add to your prepared onions. These will be our aromatic starters and they will kick start the stir-fy in a far too underestimated way. The green onions will be used as a fresh dish topper at the end but it's still good to prep them before getting started. Remove the ends with the root and make 1-inch cuts in a diagonal fashion and set aside.

Timing is sometimes tricky. I would recommend making the rice before starting the stir-fry portion of this recipe, especially since there is a 15 minute period of rest before serving. This window should allow you to heat your oil, aromatic starters (garlic & onion) and quickly heat and toss your protein and vegetables.

Rice:

  • 2 cups of white jasmine rice

  • 2 ⅔ cups of water

  • Olive oil

  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • Tea kettle

This particular method of preparing rice produces delicious, fluffy and evenly cooked rice. It is a bit old school but don’t let that deter you from giving it a try. It’s especially helpful if you don’t own a rice cooker or don’t want to opt for underwhelming microwaved options.

Start by taking out a tea kettle and filling it up with slightly more than 3 cups of water and placing it on high heat on the stove. While the water is preparing to boil, take out a strainer that has a mesh small enough to rinse rice. If this isn’t an option for you, a large bowl will also do. Measure a heaping cup of white jasmine rice and place either in a strainer or in the bowl mentioned. For the purposes of the strainer; rinse rice under running cold water until the water runs clear. You are encouraged to shake the strainer under the water and really try to thoroughly loosen the starches from the rice. Place the rice in a saucepan and repeat with the remaining cup of rice. If the bowl method is being used, add water to the bowl and, while using chopsticks, agitate the water and rice by swishing and mixing the contents around. You may need to carefully discard the water and repeat a few times before the water is almost translucent. When the water is no longer cloudy, the rice may be added to the saucepan. Repeat steps for the remaining cup of rice.

You hear the kettle’s steam whistle rattle through the silence of your zen-like state. Caught in the realization that you’ve been rinsing your rice this whole time, you are thrust back into reality. Ah yes, let’s get back to cooking.

Using the hot water from the kettle, measure 2 & ⅔ cups of water and add to the rice in the saucepan. The water should cover the rice and leave a gap of about a ½ inch. Using high heat, heat the saucepan to boil uncovered. Add a pinch of ground sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Once the rice is at a rolling boil, turn down the heat to low, stir rice, and cover with a lid and set timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off, remove from the heat completely, keep covered, and let rest for an additional 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve alongside the stir-fry.

Stir-Fry Continued:

Place 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp cornstarch and 2 Tbsp of water in a small bowl and stir with a whisk or chopsticks. Chopsticks are definitely an underrated tool in the kitchen. Set aside for later use.

Heat your wok or sauté pan with (1) Tbsp of sesame oil on high heat. Swish the oil around the pan to get an evenly coated surface. Add garlic and onion and stir until they have slightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the marinated chicken to the wok/pan and toss, cooking it for about 5 minutes or until browned. Using a slotted spot, remove chicken and place aside on a clean plate. Add the remaining (1) Tbsp of sesame oil to the wok/pan. Carefully and slowly, add chopped vegetables to the wok/pan. The oil in the pan will react with the residual moisture on the produce, causing oil to jump and possibly burn you in the process. Keep tossing the vegetables to distribute high heat evenly, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add in a ½ cup of low-sodium chicken broth (feel free to use vegetable broth if you’re making this dish vegetarian!) and allow the contents to heat back up. Once heat has resumed, add the chicken back into the wok/pan. Toss contents around to evenly distribute heat and sauce. Taking the small bowl of ingredients we made earlier (soy sauce, cornstarch and water mixture), add to the wok/pan and stir evenly again. Allow for this to cook an additional 3-5 minutes and remove from heat. Serve this vibrant dish with rice and garnish with slices of green onion, parsley & lime slices. Learning more about the dishes we love sure is delicious.

Eat, eat, eat - let’s start to eat and enjoy the meal

chī chī chī” 吃 吃 吃

 

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"How do I choose flavors? I really don’t know. I started off with apricot because I like apricots. Then it becomes a game to see what other fruits would work. My wife likes strawberries, so I did some strawberry. It just comes to me."

HARVEY TANNENBAUM, ON PREFERENCES