Chinese Chicken and Vegetables: an exotic symphony of flavours, ready to be savoured from your home kitchen. Think succulent chicken, crisp veggies, and an aromatic garlic sauce - a healthier, tastier alternative to takeout.
Before embarking on this cozy home-cooking journey, I had the fortunate opportunity to work at my local Chinese restaurant, a small but beloved cornerstone of our community.
It was a mesmerizing world filled with sizzling woks, a symphony of chopping knives, and a tantalizing orchestra of spices.
One dish that truly caught my heart was the Chinese Chicken and Vegetables, a simple staple yet so extraordinary.
The chef, a kind, patient mentor, let me in on the secrets behind the magic – the balance of flavours, the importance of fresh produce, and the subtleties in the preparation.
It was an invaluable experience, one that instilled in me a deep respect for this flavorful cuisine.
Today, I'm thrilled to share that very same dish with you. After all, good food, like all good things, is meant to be shared, right?
What vegetables can I use to make Chinese chicken and vegetables?
Stir-fries are wonderful as they are pretty versatile, and you certainly are not restricted to my choice of vegetables. Here are some other vegetables you can consider:
- Snow Peas are crunchy, sweet, and a colourful addition to any stir-fry.
- Mushrooms: come in wide varieties (like button, shiitake, or oyster) and add a wonderful, earthy flavour.
- Zucchini: adds a nice texture and mild flavour that pairs well with the garlic sauce.
- Bok Choy: A common ingredient in Chinese cuisine, bok choy has a slight bitterness that complements the savoury garlic sauce.
- Water Chestnuts: provide a unique crunchy texture.
- Bean Sprouts: add crunch and take on the flavours of the sauce well.
Remember, the beauty of a stir-fry lies in its flexibility. So, feel free to get creative with your vegetable choices!
For our vegetarian friends!
Catering to our vegetarian friends is of utmost importance. Here are some plant-based protein alternatives you can use in place of chicken:
- Tofu: Tofu is a fantastic protein source and can soak up the flavours of the sauce beautifully. Firm or extra-firm tofu would work best in a stir-fry.
- Tempeh: Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh has a distinct, nutty flavour. It's packed with protein and makes a great meat substitute in stir-fries.
- Seitan: This is a high-protein vegetarian food made from gluten. It has a meat-like texture that stands up well to stir-frying.
- Edamame: These young soybeans are not only delicious but also packed with protein.
- Chickpeas: While not traditional in Chinese cooking, chickpeas can be a great source of protein and add a nice texture to your stir-fry.
Remember to tweak cooking times as needed, as these protein sources may require less cooking time than chicken. With these options, you can easily turn this recipe into a vegetarian delight.
Chicken breast vs chicken thigh!
Ah, the classic chicken breast versus thigh debate. Both have their merits, particularly when it comes to Chinese stir-fries.
Chicken breast, as used in this recipe, is a leaner cut and tends to have a milder flavour, allowing the flavours of the garlic sauce to shine. The key is to cook it properly to avoid it turning dry.
On the other hand, chicken thighs are more flavorful due to the higher fat content. This makes it juicier and more forgiving to cook, which could be a plus if you're new to stir-frying.
In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Go for the breast if you're after a leaner, lighter stir-fry. Opt for the thigh if you prefer a juicier, more flavorful bite.
Both will work wonderfully in this dish.
What you'll need to make Chinese chicken and vegetables
For the Velveted Chicken:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Baking soda
For the Stir Fry:
- Vegetable oil
- Red capsicum (bell pepper)
- Green capsicum (bell pepper)
- Brown onion
- Can of baby corn
- Spring onions (green onion)
For the Garlic Sauce:
- Minced garlic
- Chicken stock (broth)
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
How to make Chinese chicken and vegetables?
Start with the chicken:
- Slice your boneless, skinless chicken breasts in half and then lengthwise. Now, sprinkle baking soda all over the chicken, using your hands to ensure an even coating.
- Let your chicken sit pretty for about 20 minutes in the fridge. This is when the magic happens. The chicken is being 'velveted', ensuring it'll be beautifully tender in your stir-fry.
- Next, rinse the chicken thoroughly under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Voila, your chicken is now velveted, tender, and stir-fry ready!
Now, for the stir-fry:
- Heat up that wok or large skillet with some vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- Toss in the onions, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and baby corn. Give them a good stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes. You're looking for that 'crisp-tender' sweet spot.
- Now it's time for your velveted chicken to join the party. Stir-fry everything together for another 3-4 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
And let's not forget about that flavorful garlic sauce:
- Combine minced garlic, chicken broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Give it a good stir until the cornstarch and sugar have fully dissolved.
- Pour this savoury goodness over your stir-fry, stirring well to combine. Let it cook for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and lovingly coats your stir-fry.
Spoon your delicious Chinese Chicken and Vegetables over a bed of fluffy rice or noodles. Remember to garnish with chopped green onions for that extra pop of colour and flavour. Enjoy your homemade, better-than-takeout meal cooked in your home kitchen!
Velveting is a marvellous technique borrowed from Chinese cuisine that transforms the chicken into succulent, tender pieces, even if stir-fried over high heat.
This method involves marinating the chicken in baking soda for about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking. The alkalinity of the baking soda breaks down the protein on the surface of the chicken, which blocks the moisture from escaping and hence keeps the meat juicy and tender.
The benefits are manifold:
- It results in a smoother, velvety texture (hence the term 'velveting').
- It prevents the chicken from drying out.
- It gives the stir-fry a restaurant-like quality.
Once you try velveting, you might use this technique for all your stir-fry recipes!
Your vegetables may be soft due to overcooking. Stir-fries are quick dishes, and vegetables should be cooked on high heat for a short time.
They should retain their vibrant colour and a bit of crunch. To avoid overcooking, add the veggies that take the longest to cook into the wok first, then gradually add the ones that cook quicker.
It's best to add the harder, denser vegetables when stir-frying, as they take longer to cook. In this recipe, that would be the carrots and broccoli.
Add bell peppers, onions, and baby corn later as they cook more quickly. This ensures all your vegetables finish cooking simultaneously and maintain their crispness.
This Chinese Chicken and vegetables recipe is incredibly flexible regarding your choice of protein. If you want to switch from chicken, try using thinly sliced beef or pork, shrimp, or even diced fish.
For vegetarian options, tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame, or chickpeas would all work wonderfully. Each protein will bring its own unique flavour and texture to the dish. Just remember to adjust your cooking times accordingly!
No worries if you don't own a wok! A large skillet or frying pan will work just fine. The key is to ensure it's nice and hot before adding your ingredients for that quick sear characteristic of stir-fries.
Stir fries are best enjoyed fresh, but you can do some prep beforehand.
You can velvet the chicken and chop all the vegetables in advance. The sauce can also be mixed and kept in the fridge. When it's time to eat, cooking everything up will be a breeze.
What to serve with Chinese chicken and Vegetables
Consider some delightful side options to fully complement your Chinese Chicken and Vegetables stir-fry.
Lemon Chicken will be an excellent choice if you favour a tangy note.
These sides each provide a unique flavour profile, making a great companion to the hearty and savoury stir-fry.
Enjoy mixing and matching for your perfect meal!
Luna in the kitchen!
Cue in Luna, my faithful black labrador and sous-chef! The second we start prepping, Luna's keen nose has her trotting into the kitchen, those loving eyes fixed on me.
She's an adorable foodie, I swear! While filming our latest YouTube video the other day, her cute antics stole the show.
Picture this: amidst the sizzling stir-fry, there's Luna, sitting pretty, gazing up at me with those puppy eyes as if saying, "That Chinese Chicken and Vegetables smells heavenly!"
Oh, the life of a cooking blogger with the world's cutest taste-tester!
Chinese Chicken and Vegetables in Garlic Sauce
- 2 skinless chicken breasts fillet and slice thinly
- 1 tablespoon baking soda (bi-carb)
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) sliced
- 1 green capsicum (bell pepper) sliced
- 1 medium brown onion thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot thinly sliced
- 1 broccoli head sliced into florets
- 1 425g tin baby corn spears
- 2 spring onions (green onion) (optional) chopped
- 4 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ cup chicken stock (broth)
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon corn flour (corn starch)
Velveting the chicken:
- Sprinkle the baking soda over the sliced chicken. Using your hands, toss the chicken to evenly distribute the baking soda. Let the chicken sit for about 15-20 minutes uncovered in the fridge.
- Rinse the chicken thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. The chicken is now "velveted" and ready for your stir fry.
For the Garlic Sauce:
- In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, chicken broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir well until the cornstarch and sugar are fully dissolved. Then set it aside.
For the stir-fry:
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large braising pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and baby corn. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Add the velveted chicken and stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Pour the garlic sauce over the stir fry. Stir well to combine and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Whisk 1 tablespoon of cornflour to 2 tablespoon of water into a separate bowl if you want the sauce to be thicker.
- Serve the stir fry over rice or noodles, garnished with chopped spring (green) onions.