Stir Fry Chicken, or SweetSpicyColorfulDelicious

Sweet Spicy Chicken Stir Fry with Vegetables

In Bursa, if you want some Asian-inspired stir fry chicken and rice, you’d better make it yourself. Just couple of days ago I was thinking.. when I moved to Turkey I thought how incredible that people here love their national food so much. And that it tastes equally good – either served in a little street cafe or in beautiful garden restaurant on a fancy plate.  And I love it too now, I do! The köfte, pide, saç kavurma, 56739875 types of kebaps (just kidding, but there are really a lot of them), named after people or places, endless selection of helva, baklava, Turkish delight etc.

But like many other expats in their new country (I’m sure) some days you get tired of pretending that you’re almost a local you just want something different. I want my dinner to TASTE different. I want flavors and colors that I can’t find here, even in one great restaurant in Bursa where we go for a to the best-steak-I’ve-ever-had (no kidding!) with a wide selection of local and world wines.

So for those days I have a great recipe – stir fry chicken with vegetables served with rice. This chicken is full of flavors and colors, and the combination of soy sauce and honey, infused with ginger and garlic does a good job of satisfying my craving.

It’s easy to make, goes well for a weeknight dinner for two and the recipe is adjusted to the simplest ingredients one can have (no garlic powder, no reduced-sodium chicken broth that is suggested is many recipes and is nowhere to be found in Turkey, no special sauces). It does take some time to prepare and you can’t get away with just one cutting board and a bowl, but I assure you it’s worth it!

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 2 cups chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small broccoli head, cut into florets
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • salt, pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • sesame seeds, for serving
  • fresh green onion, for serving

For sauce:

  • 1,5-2 tbsp honey
  • 0,5 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp tomato sauce (paste)
  • few fresh ginger cubes, crushed in large pieces
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (I add 1 heaped tsp)

Prepare the sauce – this is where all the flavor comes from, and it’s important to make the sauce first and let it wait for sometime. Combine all of the ingredients for sauce in a bowl. The garlic and ginger need to be crushed with a knife or in a mortar to extract the full flavor. Mix the ingredients. Taste with a tip of your tongue, just to make sure the taste is what you’re looking for – perhaps it needs a little more sweetness for your taste with an extra half tbsp of honey or more sourness with and extra tbsp of soy sauce. Set aside.

Cut the chicken breasts in cubes, not too small, place in a bowl, add cornstarch and toss to coat well. Set aside.

Prepare vegetables – clean, peel, dice and keep them separately, because you’ll be adding it to the pan at different times.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok or a frying pan with a thick bottom on a medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and fry for 5-7 minutes until browned. Take the pan off the heat and transfer chicken to a plate. Return the pan to heat, add 1 tbsp of oil, add carrots and peppers, fry for 3-4 minutes, add onions, cook 2-3 minutes more (the vegetables should not burn just get soft), then lastly add the broccoli and minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring, until broccoli gets a bright green color. Add the pre-cooked chicken. Take garlic and ginger pieces out of the sauce (I don’t use the strainer to not “lose” the pepper flakes in the process), add sauce to the pan and continue cooking for couple of minutes, stirring all of the ingredients gently to coat and let to sauce thicken up a bit.

Serve warm with plain white rice. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and a fresh green onion cut diagonally for a nice and easy plating.

Afiyet olsun! :)

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