Today’s lunch menu features a delicious one-pot meal as I’ll be dining alone. Cooking for myself can be challenging, as I aim to create a balanced meal with protein, fiber, and vegetables while limiting the variety. For this reason, I stir-fry chicken with mushrooms for my midday meal.
A noteworthy practice in typical Chinese stir-fry dishes is combining meat and vegetables. This allows the meat juices to infuse the vegetables, producing an exceptionally flavorful combination.
The preparation of this dish follows the standard stir-fry method. However, while chicken thighs are more commonly used in stir-frying, I intentionally opted for chicken breasts this time. Chicken breasts are popular in most Western countries but have less fat, making them prone to becoming tough if overcooked, a common occurrence in stir-frying.
Therefore, I aim to keep the breast meat tender by not overcooking it.
Ingredient Choices and Preparation Tips
This section explores the list of ingredients, substitutes, and the rationale behind their selection.
Chicken vs. Beef vs. Pork:
While this recipe features chicken and mushrooms, feel free to use other meats as suitable alternatives. Chinese cuisine often includes pork in this stir-fry, but beef works equally well.
If you substitute chicken with pork, no adjustments are needed in the recipe. However, for beef, I recommend adding ginger juice and green onions to complement its taste. Also, remember that beef cooks faster than chicken, so shorten the cooking time accordingly.
Chicken Breasts vs. Thighs:
Traditional Chinese stir-fries often use chicken thighs (dark meat) for their tenderness. However, I’ll use chicken breast meat in today’s recipe to achieve the same tenderness as thighs.
How to tenderize the chicken breast for stir-frying:
- The marinade ingredients for the chicken are light soy sauce and ground white pepper. The acidic nature of soy sauce (pH around five) helps break down tough proteins, resulting in tender meat.
- Coat the chicken with cornflour, forming a protective layer that shields it from direct heat in the wok or large skillet. This prevents overcooking and helps retain the meat’s moisture. It is more effective to use medium heat and pan-fry the chicken until golden, developing a richer flavor. The cornstarch ensures the inner part of the meat remains perfectly cooked.
- Fry the chicken separately from the mushrooms and vegetables, which require different cooking times. Pan-frying the chicken breast alone is easier, and I usually fry it on both sides until slightly golden before combining it with the vegetables.
Mushroom Selection for the Perfect Stir-Fry
The choice of mushrooms for your stir-fry depends on personal preference and availability. Dry shiitake, king oyster, and shimeji mushrooms are popular in Malaysia. However, during my stay in New Zealand, I found button or portobello mushrooms excellent choices.
If you opt for dry shiitake mushrooms, please soak them thoroughly until they are fully rehydrated before cooking. You can use hot water to soak the mushrooms to expedite the process, significantly reducing the required soaking time. I recommend placing a heavy bowl on top while soaking to submerge all the mushrooms, as dry mushrooms tend to float on the surface.
The Ideal Selection of Vegetables
In addition to chicken and mushrooms, incorporating vegetables is necessary to ensure a balanced and satisfying meal. I’ve included leafy and non-leafy vegetables in the stir-fry to achieve this. Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli) is my preferred choice for the leafy variety, though choy sum works equally well.
As for the non-leafy vegetables, I opted for snow peas and baby corn primarily because they were readily available in my refrigerator. However, the beauty of this recipe lies in the flexibility of vegetable selection. Depending on your taste and what you have, you can choose from many options, including carrot slices, bamboo shoots, firm tofu, water chestnuts, broccoli florets, and bell peppers.
To prepare the vegetables, stir-fry them with fresh garlic, keeping them separate from the meat until the final stages of the cooking process. This method ensures that each vegetable maintains its unique texture and flavor while combining them at the end allows all the flavors of ingredients to meld harmoniously.
Creating the Perfect Stir-Fry Sauce: Cantonese-Style Seasonings
The seasonings should be non-spicy and light for this Cantonese-style stir-fry dish, complementing the ingredients’ natural flavors. To achieve this, I’ve concocted a delightful stir-fry sauce by combining light soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry), sesame oil, cornstarch, and a few tablespoons of water.
I prefer to mix all the seasonings in advance in a small bowl to ensure a seamless and stress-free cooking process. This way, I avoid the risk of miscalculating or accidentally leaving out any ingredient during the stir-frying process.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Stir-Fry Chicken and Mushrooms
Below are the precise steps I followed to cook the chicken and mushrooms stir-fry. The crucial step is the stir-fry chicken and mushrooms separately.
- Begin by cutting the chicken breast meat into thin strips, about 1 to 1.5 inches in length and 1/3 of an inch thick.
- Marinate the chicken with light soy sauce, ground white pepper, and oil for added flavor and tenderness.
- Prepare the chopped garlic, which will add aromatic depth to the dish.
- Soak the dry shiitake mushrooms until they become soft and plump, ready for cooking.
- Next, prepare the snow peas by removing their fiber strings and cutting them in half.
- Similarly, cut the baby corn in half, ensuring all the vegetables are ready for the stir-fry.
- Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with the marinated chicken, then add a teaspoon of oil to separate the pieces.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Place the chicken in a single layer and pan-fry until both sides turn slightly brown. If the chicken is not fully cooked, continue stir-frying until done. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan.
- Add more oil and sauté the chopped garlic in a separate wok until its fragrance fills the air. Add the Gai Lan and stir-fry until the leaves begin to wilt.
- Include the soaked shiitake mushrooms, baby corn, and snow peas in the wok, stirring until all the vegetables are cooked.
- Return the chicken pieces to the wok, mixing them with the vegetables.
- Prepare the sauce by mixing Ingredients D. Combine the sauce with the other ingredients in the wok. Finally, dish it out to serve with white rice.
Delicious Variations: More Stir-Fry Recipes to Savor
If you like this easy chicken stir-fry recipe, here are some enticing recommendations that are sure to tantalize your taste buds:
- Chinese Cabbage Stir-Fry: It is prepared with a minimalistic approach with few ingredients. However, this dish promises to captivate your palate with its unassuming charm.
- Chicken and Cashew Stir-Fry: Closely related to the recipe shared in this post, the chicken and cashew stir-fry takes a delightful twist once cashews join the medley.
- Beef Noodle Stir-Fry: Prepared using the traditional Cantonese method and seasonings, this dish delivers an authentic flavor better than most Chinese takeout.
- 300g chicken breasts meat
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 2 tsp cooking oil
- 2 tsp chopped garlic
- 3 dried Shitake mushrooms
- 10 snow peas
- 8 baby corns
- 3 stalks Gai Lan
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp cooking oil
Ingredeints D (sauce)
- Begin by cutting the chicken breast meat into thin strips, about 1 to 1.5 inches in length and 1/3 of an inch thick. Marinate the chicken with Ingredients A.
- Prepare the chopped garlic, cut the baby corn in half, soak the dry shiitake mushrooms until they become soft and plump, cut the snow peas diagonally, and remove their fiber strings.
- Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with the marinated meat, then add a teaspoon of oil to separate the chicken pieces.
- Heat some oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Place the chicken in a single layer and pan-fry until both sides turn slightly brown. Remove from the pan.
- Add more oil and sauté the chopped garlic in a separate wok un.
- Add the Gai Lan and stir-fry until the leaves begin to wilt.
- Introduce the soaked shiitake mushrooms, baby corn, and snow peas to the wok, stirring until all the vegetables are cooked.
- Return the cooked chicken to the wok, mixing it with the vegetables.
- Pour in the stir-fry sauce you prepared earlier and combine it with the other ingredients in the wok.
- Increase the heat to high, ensuring the sauce is thoroughly mixed and evenly coats all ingredients.
- Once the flavors have melded together, dish out the delightful stir-fry, ready to be savored and enjoyed.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Havista Dried Premium Flower Shiitake Mushrooms, 6 Ounce
Lodge 14 Inch Cast Iron Wok. Pre-Seasoned Wok with Flattened Bottom for Asian Stir Fry and Sautees
Lee Kum Kee Premium Light Soy Sauce - 150ml (5.27 fl oz)
MICHELANGELO Nonstick Frying Pan Stone with Ultra Nonstick Granite Coating, 10 Inch Frying Pan with Lid, Nonstick Skillet Pfoa Free, Non toxic Rock Pan, Induction Compatible -10 inch
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 657Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 1452mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 19gSugar: 25gProtein: 63g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 8/8/2023