Random Bag Night – Ugly Chicken Stir Fry

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I finally succumbed to whatever the cold bug of the moment is and so yesterday with a huge assist from my husband, we made some chicken soup. We used a whole roasting chicken, and aside from some tasty broth, we had a lot of leftover chicken from the soup. I love chicken straight from the stock pot when it’s nice and hot and steeped in the flavors of the soup, but the day after, when it’s sort of a cold gelatinous mass in the fridge, I struggle with what to do with it. Tonight, a mild stroke of genius coupled with a desire to avoid hitting the store: stir fry the leftover chicken with veggies and herbs we have in the fridge. The chicken from the soup ends up falling apart, almost in a shredded fashion, so the dish gets kind of messy and with the soy sauce, it gets kind of brown, hence the “ugly” moniker in the title. Here is the recipe:

2 tablespoons oil (i used olive)

2 cups of cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

1 shallot, chopped

1/2 cup chopped carrots

5-6 mushrooms, sliced

3-4 dried shitake mushrooms, softened

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

3 tablespoons thai fish sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 TINY drop of sesame oil

Generous pinch of red pepper flakes

1 handful chopped cilantro

1 handful chopped fresh mint

1 splash of sherry (optional)

1 wedge of lime for serving

1 small spoonful of garlic chili sauce – only if you want it HOTTT

I recommend doing all the chopping of ingredients ahead of time since this recipe tends to go fast. In a bowl combine the ginger, tamari soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. Set aside.  Heat the oil in a wok (or any large non-stick pan) on medium-high heat and add shallots and carrots. Allow to soften, and stir often (ugh, that rhymes!).  After 2-3 minutes, add the mushrooms – both the fresh and the chopped dried shitakes. Continues to stir and cook until the mushrooms just start to get soft (about 2-3 minutes). Add red pepper flakes and chicken. Add ginger-tamari mixture and stir, continue to cook down until chicken is well heated through. Add sherry, and continue to stir until sherry is largely cooked down (3-4 minutes). Add cilantro and mint and remove from heat immediately. Serve over rice, or in our case, a mix of rice and bean thread noodles which we had in the closet which I doused with some Ponzu sauce before topping with chicken concoction. Squeeze lime over top of the finished dish.

A couple of random notes – I think many of you may be wondering how I happen to have all of these things in my house for “random” bag night…  so the following are a few notes about how I stock my kitchen:

1. I always have cilantro and parsley in my fridge. If you wash them immediately upon getting home from the store, dry it well, wrap in a paper towel and seal in a ziploc, they will last in your fridge for close to a month.

2. Dried shitake mushrooms – I think I’ve said in past posts that you should always have dried mushrooms around. I try to keep porcini mushrooms or a mix of dried mushrooms in the house. The shitakes are found at any Asian grocer and they will keep forever. The only thing you should note is that all dried mushrooms tend to be salty so be aware of that while cooking with them

3. Ginger – I keep it in my freezer and use a microplane to grate it – doesn’t compromise the flavor at all.

4. Fish sauce & tamari  – If you like Asian flavors at all, you must have these two items in your fridge. They keep for a long time so I almost always have some and all the major grocers carry both items. Same thing with the sesame oil.

5. Mint and Mushrooms – ok, totally random items I had leftover from a trip to the store last week. I used the mint over the weekend in a fruit salad (along with cilantro) and it was kick-ass.

6. Rice and bean thread noodles – Also two items found in almost every supermarket now. I keep them in my cabinet since they are insanely fast and easy to prepare and great with any flavor – I use the rice noodles especially in any soup I make as a nice light noodle.

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