March 05, 2007

Orange Chile Chicken Stir Fry

I used to be a little bit afraid of stir fries. Oh, I was happy to eat them, but I was never happy with any that I made. I eventually stumbled on to a few secrets that have worked very well for me: don't put too many ingredients in, don't cut everything super small, give the sauce time to thicken and clarify, and always, always, add the onions last so that they don't overcook.

It was the last one that was the clincher. Putting ginger, for example, or chiles in an otherwise empty pan seemed like an odd thing to do, the first time, but the rewards for stepping out of my comfort zone were pretty substantial, as were the rewards of listening to Palle's advice, despite his at-the-time somewhat limited cooking repertoire.

Palle, who has only come fairly late to really enjoying cooking, mastered the stir-fry long before I did, and it was his insistance - backed with inarguable results - that convinced me to put the onions in last, as I have said before.

I don't often use any sort of recipe for stir fries - I just think of a flavour combination that I like and try it out. Sometimes I base it on something I've eaten in a restaurant, seen on FoodTV, or saw in a book, and I'm certainly not adverse to using a recipe, it's just that I enjoy throwing things together from the fridge, and the stir fry lends itself to that beautifully.

For this one, I tried something new: I zested an orange with my veggie peeler, being very careful to avoid the pith. This was easier to do than I thought it would be, which started the dish on an encouraging note. The zest was sliced into thin ribbons, some of which were cooked in with the stir fry, and some of which were flung on top as a sort of garnish. The juice from the orange gave a gentle flavour to the sauce, thickened with a teensy bit of cornstarch, but not the sort of overly sweet component that you can get if you use concentrated orange juice. Myself, I prefer the savory to the sweet, so it worked out just fine, with just a hint of sweetness. I used finely sliced ginger and dried red chiles to balance out the orange.

The rest was pretty straight forward: chicken, red bell pepper, green onions, and a little regular onion, just so I could add it last.


Lera said...

Hi Dawna,how are you ?It's been a while since ivisited ,That's a Lovely glazed chicken ,I'm getting hungry:)

Dawna said...

Hi Lera - thanks for coming back to see me! I haven't been posting as much as I would like, but I'm hoping to get back to more prolific writing really soon. Come back any time!