An old friend of mine has been visiting from Hong Kong, and I have been eating out with her a great deal in the past few days. Today, we both had a craving for some simple home cooked Chinese food.
As we prepared the chicken stir fry and the poached Chinese greens for lunch, we talked about our kids. Angela was three when she was one of the flower girls at my friend’s wedding. We blinked and now Angela is going to college. When I was young, I used to chronicle time by the films I made. After I had the girls, time has been measured by their milestones or the particular challenges they faced at a certain stage of their lives. With old friends, we mark time by the memorable gatherings throughout the years — and often times they are about the special food we have shared. “Remember that amazing handmade soba noodle in Niseko?” It seemed like only yesterday, but it was six years ago that my friend and I brought our families together on a trip to Niseko. We hold on to the memories as time slips through our fingers like sand. I miss the family trips we used to make. Nowadays, the girls are no longer interested in traveling with their parents. They are forming intense and meaningful friendships that will hopefully accompany them for the rest of their lives, same as the ones I share with my old friends from my youth. Even though my friend lives on the other side of the ocean, the time and distance that separate us seem to disappear as soon as we manage to get together.
I don’t know if today’s simple lunch will be one that we remember years from now, but it was comfort food that we both missed. I make stir fried chicken variations a couple of times a month because it’s simple and versatile. You can almost add any vegetables to the dish and make it a meal. We made ours with a mix of jalapeño and sweet pepper because we both like spicy food. I also added a little celery for a little crunch.
Stir Fried Chicken with Peppers and Celery:
Ingredients for the sauce:
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp sugar
Ingredients for the marinade:
1 tablespoon Shao Xing cooking wine
Thinly sliced ginger
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch or tapioca starch
Ingredients for the Stir Fry:
1 chicken breast, cut into bite size
2 stocks celery, sliced to match the size of the chicken pieces
1 red jalapeno, sliced
1 green jalapeño, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
3 tablespoon cooking oil, separated
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Marinate the chicken breast pieces in wine, ginger and cornstarch for 30 minutes.
Combine all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
Heat a large wok over high heat. When the wok is very hot, add half of the oil, then add the chicken without the marinade. Stir fry, stirring until the chicken turns opaque. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.
Add the remaining oil to the wok; add the garlic and ginger, stir for 20 seconds. Add all three kinds of peppers and the celery, stirring over medium high heat until tender crisp, about 3 minutes.
Return the chicken to the wok, add the sauce, mix well and cook another 30 seconds to one minute. Serve immediately with rice.