Cooking in and of itself is an art form. That being said, in the art of cooking Stir-Fry is a completely different language. I never really understood why the Stir-Fries that I made were different from those I would find in restaurants. Not bad just lacking certain elements that I couldn’t really nail down. It always bothered me that no matter how closely I would follow recipes I just didn’t seem to get it right.
When I discovered Grace Young’s book The Breath of a Wok those missing elements were revealed to me. I thought I knew and understood Stir-Fry, but honestly I knew nothing. I learned that a well seasoned wok was essential in order to capture what the Chinese refer to as “Wok Hay” (the breath of a wok).
In Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge Grace guides you through all the techniques that are necessary to achieve really great stir-fries. The first part of this book is a primer, educating the reader on how to choose, season, and care for a wok, and includes a section on kitchen essentials and the Chinese pantry. The second half of the book houses a collection of authentic Chinese recipes from cooks around the country, who share their wonderful stories of food, family and culture.
*The recipe I am sharing with you comes to us from Grace’s friend George Chew. The recipe is originally from Jackie Chong his daughter’s babysitter for Stir-Fried Chicken with Carrots and Shiitake Mushrooms. This was the only way he was able to get her to eat carrots It’s easy to make and very delicious.
Stir-Fried Chicken with Carrots and Mushrooms
12 medium dried shiitake mushrooms
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4 inch thick bites sized pieces
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups julienned carrots
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
In a medium bowl, soak the mushrooms in 2/3 cup cold water for 30 minutes or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry. (Reserve liquid for later stocks if desired.) Cut off the stems and thinly slice the caps to make about 1 cup.
In a medium bowl combine the chicken, soy sauce and cornstarch. Stir to combine.
Heat a 14-inch wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the garlic, then using a metal spatula, stir-fry for 10 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Push the garlic to the sides of the wok, then carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer. Cook undisturbed for one minute allowing the chicken to sear. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 30 seconds or until well combined. Add the carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the carrots just begin to wilt. Sprinkle on the sugar and salt and stir-fry for 5 seconds until just combined. Swirl the boiling water into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until well combined. Add the dark soy sauce and stir-fry for 1 minute or until the chicken is just cooked through.
This dish is best served over rice.
Oh, I didn’t forget Yes I do have a copy to give away! All you have to do is leave a comment here, I would love to hear about your favorite Chinese dish. I will leave this open for comments until Midnight on Friday July 30th and do a random drawing to select the winner and post the announcement here. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you!
*Corrected: The original recipe is from Jackie Chong and not George Chew as I previously stated.
* 8/2/10 – The winner of a copy of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge is Jackie Baisa! Jackie, I will contact you via email for your info