Sunday, 17 November 2013

Thai Ginger Chicken Stir Fry Conquers 1st Snow of the Season Woes...

November 2013

SmartCooks here.  Winter arrived last weekend in time for Remembrance Day.  I raked three bags of leaves, those leafy gifts that just keep on giving from the two massive maples in our backyard.  As I pushed the last bit into bag #3, the snow began falling.  Talk about timing.

To cheer myself up, I decided on an aerobics class in Kanata.  Normally, it's a 15-minute drive door to door but, naturally, in the first snow of the season, it look almost 45 minutes of bumper-to- bumper traffic crawling along in the grey slush and gloom.

People drive (pun intended) you crazy.  Most adjust for the conditions but then there's the morons who ignore the weather and zoom in and out of traffic at 120+ kph.  I swear people take stupid pills when they get behind the wheel of a car.  They made the drive to and from the gym not fun.

OK, got that out of my system.  When I finally got home it seemed like just the kind of evening to cook and watch my latest Netflix series -- The 4400 -- a sci-fi that ran for four seasons from 2004-07.  

Ever wonder what happened to all those people who are kidnapped by UFOs?  Wonder no more.  All 4400 kidnapped over a 50-year period are returned to earth, each with special powers for good or evil.  

Anyway, I was hooked.  And, way too late I read the review and, 'NATCH, it ends on a cliffhanger.  Despite countless petitions, it never returned.  Maybe Netflix viewers can help change that.  

Thai Cooking Websites
It also seemed like an evening for a little heat so I pulled out a recipe for Thai Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry and tarted it up with mushrooms.  

Endless variations of this recipe can be found on any of the top-notch, easy-to-follow and well presented sites focussing on accessible Thai cooking.  By 'accessible' I mean easy-to-find ingredients without having to order on-line or do a full-scale forensic search of Asian cooking stores.  So, I left out the most authentic Thai cooking sites like "Thai Food Master".  (But check it out if you are up to a challenge.)

For my taste, websites such as
Appon's Thai Food, Thai Kitchen Canada,  She Simmers, Riya's Kitchen, and Enjoy Thai Food provide plenty of inspiration for a home-cooker like me.

For Thai Ginger Chicken Stir Fry, however, I chose a recipe from The Kitchn, a site I've following for quite a while now. 

The site is a mixture of home-cooking recipes, combined with collections of pinterest interests (e.g., creative pet enclosures in a family setting) and cooking tools and techniques. There's dozen of recipes, all beautifully presented, with a range of cooking styles.  I've tried a number of them, and they've never let me down.  They are all easy to adapt with whatever you have on hand.  

Some of the recipes call for oyster sauce and I always use the vegetarian (mushroom)-based version. Like most stir-fry recipes, advance preparation is key. I assemble all ingredients and then cook in a wok or other skillet or choice. 

It's also an incredibly versatile recipe, as you can see in photos below.  In one version, coriander takes centre stage, while the second photo (from the Kitchn) promotes the use of the red pepper and chilies.  It all depends on mood and taste.  

Minced Ginger-Garlic Paste Mixtures 
When I have lots of time, I love cutting up some of the garlic cloves I bought at the Carp Garlic Festival this summer.  Stored properly, they last all winter.  I've learned the trick of running my hands around the stainless steel sink after cutting garlic as it instantly cuts the smell of garlic on your hands (I kid you not!).  

Same with ginger... fresh, organic, peeled and then cut into matchsticks.  There's nothing like the fresh ginger smell in a kitchen.  

But, if I'm really pressed for time, I save those 10 minutes and haul out my trusty bottle of minced ginger and garlic (combined in one jar) that I found in an Asian food store.  Alternatively, you can buy two bottles, one of minced ginger and one of minced garlic.  But I find the combo works of me in times of need.  

Thai Ginger Chicken Stir Fry 

1 lb boneless, skinless, preferably organic, chicken breast
3 T vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil, canola oil also works)
2 T fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves (or less depending on preference)
1/2 large white or yellow onion
1/2 cup cashew nuts
5-6 dried chilies 

4 green spring onions 
1/2 red bell pepper 
1/2 cup mushrooms (mix of cremini, shiitake, oyster or other favourites)
1.5 T fish sauce 
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 T oyster sauce (vegetarian or regular)
1/4 tsp salt
1 red chili

1 T cornstarch (more if thicker sauce desired) 
Coriander (optional)
Jasmine rice or Green vegetables (I used kale) 

Advance Preparation:
Slice the chicken breast into small slices.
Chop and dice the garlic.
Cut the ginger into matchsticks.
Slice the half onion into shreds.
Slice the red chili into strips.

Cut the mushrooms into pieces.  
Fry the cashew nuts in a saucepan with 1 T vegetable oil on a medium heat for 5 minutes until they change to a yellow colour.
Fry the dry chili for half a minute until crispy.

Make a slurry of the chicken stock and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Add 2 T oil to medium wok or hot frying pan.
Add the garlic and ginger and fry until you can smell the garlic. 

Add the onion and stir fry for another minute or so. 
Add the chicken and stir fry 4-5 minutes until the chicken changes colour.
Add in mushrooms, cashew nuts, crispy chili, spring onion, and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add fish and oyster sauces, salt and red chilli and stir for one minute. 

Add the slurry of chicken stock/cornstarch and stir for a couple of minutes to thicken sauce.  
To serve, sprinkle with coriander (optional) 
Can be served alone or with jasmine rice or Thai greens (The Kitchn has a great recipe for stir fry greens).


  1. I tried this for my family. I added some vegetables and other ingredients. Actually, this is very tasty and my family really liked this. I would really create this again when I have time. Anyway, please keep on sharing delicious recipes like this.

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