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Chicken & Ginger Stir Fry

May 5, 2014

A few years ago, my mom took a trip to Thailand to visit her family for a couple of weeks on her own.  That left my dad home alone to take care of himself.  This means he had to take care of the house, cook for himself, clean up after himself, etc.  Of course, I had to call and check in with my dad each day to make sure he was doing what he was supposed to be doing and that he didn’t need any help.  During our daily phone calls, I’d ask him what he made himself for dinner the previous night.  One day, he told me about a simple stir fry meal he’d made with just chicken and ginger since he had a bunch of ginger at the house.  He said it was really simple and very tasty.  In fact, he told me that at some point he’d have to make it for my husband since he knew how much my husband loved ginger.  After a couple of weeks, I figured either my dad was just lazy or he must really like this chicken and ginger stir fry dish because he seemed to be making it a couple of times a week for himself.  Fast forward a year, my dad started making this dish for my husband and I for dinner when we’d drive down to my parents house on Friday night to have dinner.  Not surprisingly, my husband absolutely loved it.  The more ginger the better, that’s his philosophy.  My dad was delighted that my husband liked the dish.  In fact, it got to be that my husband would start requesting that my dad make this dish on Friday’s when we’d have dinner with them.  My dad was concerned that my husband might get bored with having the same dinner every Friday, but my husband never did seem to get bored with it.

With my husband’s line of work, the first four months of each year mean that he never gets down to my parents house for dinner because he works late every night and works on weekends too.  So, one day, I had an idea, if my husband couldn’t get down to my parents house for one of his favorite dishes, why should I just bring the dish to my husband by making it here at home for dinner.  So, I got on the phone with my dad who gave me the basic recipe and instructions and off I went!  I couldn’t wait to surprise my husband with one of his favorite dishes.

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The great thing about this dish, as my dad mentioned to me early on, it’s so simple and easy to make with very few ingredients that all pack a big wallop of flavor.  Start with garlic and ginger.  Some of the key ingredients found in Asian cooking.

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Take a few cloves of ginger and finely mince it. Set it aside while you deal with the ginger.

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Take ginger root, peel off the skin and then julienne cut the ginger into small, thin strips.  The amount of ginger you use is up to what you can stand.  The first time I made this dish, my husband said I didn’t use enough ginger.  The second time, I made it with twice as much ginger and my husband loved it, though I felt my mouth was on fire a little bit.  Also, the younger the ginger root you use, the less fibrous and actually more sweet the ginger will taste.  And that sweetness is a great balance to the spice of the ginger.

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Start with a couple of tablespoons of canola oil added to a sauté pan on the stove.  Set the temperature to medium-high heat.  Give the canola oil a few seconds to heat up before adding in the minced garlic.  Start stirring the garlic around the sauté pan.  The heat will release the flavors of the garlic into the canola oil to help add tremendous flavor to the dish.  You want to keep stirring because you want the garlic to slightly brown and cook but you don’t want it to burn.

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After a couple of minutes add diced chicken breast to  sauté pan.  You want bite-sized, small diced chicken.  For 2 people, about 1 to 1.5 chicken breasts is more than enough.  Saute the chicken in the garlic and canola oil until it’s just cooked.  You don’t want to over cook the chicken and have it become rubbery.

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Just as the chicken has cooked all the way through, add the julienned ginger directly into the sauté pan.

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Now add your seasoning of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Don’t add too much salt as we’ll be adding other seasonings later that have salt in it.  Add in as much ground black pepper as you like.  We like pepper so we add a lot so that it balances with the spice of the ginger.  Saute all the ingredients together.  Add in about 1/2 cup of water, this will help add moisture to the dish as we’ll make a little bit of sauce or “gravy” for the chicken and the heat from the water in the sauté pan will open up the flavors in the ginger and the garlic.  Just a little bit of water, we’re not making soup so make sure your chicken isn’t swimming.

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And now for the key ingredient in this stir fry, oyster sauce.   Oyster sauce has plenty of salt in it, so there’s no need to add too much salt when you season your dish.  Add in a couple of tablespoons of oyster sauce from the bottle directly into the sauté pan.  Now stir together all of the ingredients.  You’ll see that the chicken turns this nice, rich golden brown color.  That’s exactly what you’re looking for.

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The water that you previously added will also help to thin out the oyster sauce as oyster sauce is rather thick and will help to create a nice flavorful sauce or “gravy” for the chicken and prevent the chicken from drying out.  This sauce also helps to cook the ginger thoroughly and soften its texture to be more edible.  Cook everything in the sauté pan for a few more minutes so that the flavors meld together.

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In a bowl, over a bed of rice, scoop up a couple of spoonfuls of your stir fried chicken and ginger right over the rice.

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To take this dish to another level by adding an egg over easy right on the top of the rice and the chicken and ginger. Sprinkle some green onion over the top and a little bit more black pepper and serve.  Once served, you should take your fork and spoon and break up the egg and mix together the runny yolk as well as the egg with the rice and the chicken and ginger.  The runny, creamy egg yolk mixed with the rice and the chicken and ginger is such a perfect combination.  The egg really ties the dish together.  You’ve got creaminess from the egg, tang from the ginger, saltiness from the oyster sauce and it all comes together in a simple to cook, easy to make dish.

If you are a ginger lover, like my husband, this dish is a must try!  It brings together so many different textures and flavors and literally takes 10-15 minutes to prep and cook.  My husband loved it, because the flavors are so different from most of the food we generally eat.  Now, we don’t have to wait until we have dinner with my parents and my husband requests this meal, we can make this on our own for dinner during the week.  In much the way that drinks are thirst-quenching, my husband finds this dish and its flavors to satisfy his desire to enjoy a filling, spicy, and tasty dish.  Who knew that the simple combination of ginger and chicken would make my husband go wild!

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