I make a lot of stir fry. It’s easy, delicious, there’s vegetables in it, it contains rice (my fave) and it’s a one-pot meal. There’s also another personal reason, and that’s because my spouse has to “prepare” his food before he begins to eat it, so if I put something in front of him that’s not scoopable and needs to be cut up into a million pieces (like a steak or a chicken breast), then we’re going to be waiting a while because he cuts everything on his plate first before he eats it. By the time he’s done preparing, I’m finished with my food. So the stir fry is the nice compromise. There’s no cutting, just shoveling delicious mouthfuls of food into one’s mouth.
This is my current favorite out of my large stir fry repertoire and it comes to us by way of that book I haven’t stopped yammering on about: The Cook’s Illustrated “Best 30 Minute Recipe“. What I like about this is that there’s a generic stir fry recipe that’s accompanied by a table that tells you how long specific vegetables need to be steamed for. This allows for mixing and matching your favorite vegetables. On the next page, five very different sauces are listed that are added to the stir fry. Technically, you could have stir fry all week with basically the same protein and leftover vegetables, all you have to do is mix up the sauces for a totally different result. It’s that pair of pants you wear a couple of days a week, but the different shirts make it seem like a completely different outfit.
If you want to get the vegetable chart and the varied sauces, you’ll have to pick up the book. Here’s my favorite concoction with chicken, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini and snow peas.
Chicken Stir Fry with Coconut-Curry Sauce
Adapted from The Best 30 Minute Recipe
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
1 pounds prepared vegetables: cauliflower, snow peas, julienned zucchini and slivered carrots
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated, fresh ginger
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Toss chicken with soy sauce. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add protein and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (3 – 5 minutes). Transfer chicken to a clean bowl.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the stir-fry sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste, brown sugar and cornstarch until combined.
Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and 1/2 cup water to pan and return to medium high heat until oil is shimmering. Add cauliflower florets to pan, cover and steam for 3 minutes (set your timer — it helps). Carefully remove lid. Add carrots and cover, steaming for 2 minutes. Carefully remove lid. Add snow peas and zucchini and cover, steaming for 30 seconds. Vegetables will be crisp-tender.
Clear center of pan and add remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, garlic and ginger. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and juices back into pan. Whisk coconut milk mixture to recombine, add to pan and bring to simmer. Cook sauce until thickened 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Words can’t describe how happy this meal makes me. It’s fast and simple, and a delicious way of getting vegetables into your diet. If you’re worried about spice, don’t be, this is pretty mild. Still, if you’re nervous, the red curry paste can be cut back to 1/2 tablespoon and still have a pleasing effect.