Friday, July 22, 2016

My Mother's Chinese Chicken Stir Fry


 When we came to the United States in the early 70's my mother cooked mostly Sri Lankan food.  We needed to keep our connection to our homeland and food was a great way to do that at the time.  After a few years here, my mother started to experiment with other foods from American, Italian and Chinese.  

You may scratch your head when you look at the ingredients list below and you see curry leaves, pandan leaves, cardamoms, cloves...and how they can be in a Chinese dish.  Well, you can't take the Sri Lankan cook out of my mother and that's how she made her Chinese Stir Fry.  

The only thing I know is that it was one of my favorite dishes to eat and it became a family favorite for a quick weeknight meal. Yes... this stir fry is considered quick in my mother's book because it's a one pot dish with rice.  She is so used to cooking 3-4 dishes to eat a rice and curry meal that a one pot dish is a breeze for her.  I loved making this dish with her because it brought back some sweet memories of my childhood.

3lbs skinless bone-in chicken cut into large chunks
10-12 curry leaves
1-2 pandan leaves
3-4 green cardamom pods
3-4 black cloves
1 small cinnamon stick (1inch long)
salt and black pepper to taste
1Tbs grated ginger
1Tbs grated garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce (or to taste for salt)
1 1/2 cups water
2 carrots peeled and chopped or sliced
2 stalks celery sliced
1 onion sliced
1 bell pepper sliced
1 can water chestnuts drained
1 bunch green onions sliced
2Tbs cornstarch with a little water to thicken sauce

Recommended Garnish:  store bought Chow Mein Noodles

Note:  I cooked a double recipe in the photos below so if you see more quantity than suggested, that is why.  The recipe provided should feed about 4 people. 

Cut chicken into large chunks with bone-in and marinate for 1 hour with some salt and black pepper.  Then heat 2-3 Tbs canola oil in large pan or wok and add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon stick, curry leaves and pandan leaves for 30-45 seconds.  Next add the marinated chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes.

 Then add ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Next add the carrots, celery and onion to the dish and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the soy sauce and water to cook the chicken.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

 Once the chicken is cooked through, add the bell pepper, water chestnuts and green onion.  Cook for another 5 minutes (preferably covered).  Finally make the cornstarch and water slurry and pour into pan.  Stir well and allow the gravy to thicken.   Taste for seasoning and serve with rice.  Enjoy.

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