The Sauce: Wok Glaze – This sauce is a light glaze made from chicken broth and a touch of cornstarch. It’s added to the wok right at the end of the cooking process. The transparent light glaze enhances flavor and results in glistening crisp tender vegetables.
Pecans always available
Pecans have an assigned ‘parking place’ in my kitchen. An essential ingredient, they find their way into savory and sweet dishes. They have a more bitter taste than the softer, milder cashew conventionally used in this dish. They’re feistier, crunchier and a standout feature.
Most pecans are grown in Georgia, a shout out to a place I love and lived in twice. They haven’t been widely used in China until the past decade. Now more prevalent in Chinese kitchens, they’re often roasted. In this recipe, the nuts are pan roasted in the wok for a few seconds to enhance their flavor. Crunchy pecans, crisp tender vegetables and juicy chicken make this a dish you can frequently serve. It’s healthy and fresh.
2011 AniversaRecipe – Shrimp and Pork Balls with Spicy Lime Dipping Sauce and Golden Coin Steak
Recipe: Pecan Chicken
Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 10 Minutes | Yield: 4 Servings | Level: Easy
- 4 dry shitake mushrooms
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut in 2/3-inch chunks
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
- 1 Tbsp egg white
- 3 tsp cornstarch, divided
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 cup red pepper, cut in small pieces
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 cup bamboo shoots, 2/3-inch cubed
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut in half on the diagonal
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- steamed rice
1 Place the shitake mushrooms in small bowl and cover with luke warm water. Place a small cup or plate on top to hold the mushrooms underwater. When they are dry they float. Set aside to reconstitute, 5-10 minutes. Once soft, cut the stem off and discard. Cut the cap in small chunks.
2 Combine chicken, ginger and 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes while preparing the vegetables.
3 Meanwhile, mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small bowl to make a thin batter. Set aside.
4 Mix the chicken stock and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in another small bowl for the glaze. Set aside.
5 Heat a wok or large skillet on high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of oil, heat and roll around the sides of the wok to coat. Add the pecans and cook for 15-20 seconds stirring then remove with a spider or slotted spoon.
6 Pour the batter into the chicken mixture and stir to coat the chicken pieces. Add the chicken to the wok and cook for 2-3 minutes until it’s light brown, stirring to keep the meat moving. Remove back to the bowl. Scrap the bits off the bottom of the pan and discard.
7 Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and briefly heat, rolling around to coat the sides of the walk. Add the red pepper and cook and stir for 1 minute.
Add the garlic and sugar snap peas and continue cooking and stirring for 1 minute.
Add the bamboo shoots and mushrooms, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sugar and salt. Cook and stir for 30 seconds.
8 Add the chicken, pecans and stir to combine. Push the mixture to the sides leaving a space in the center. Slowly add the chicken glaze mixture to the center, stirring as it thickens. Then stir the chicken and vegetables in. Adjust for salt and serve immediately over steamed rice.
Information the meat mixture causes browned bits on the bottom of the wok. Once you remove the meat from the wok, use your wok spatula to scrap the bits off the pan then wipe them off the spatula onto a paper towel so they are mostly removed. If you continue cooking the vegetables the bits become darker and may even burn.
Secrets to great Chinese Wok Cooking – 1) Prep the meat mixture, vegetables, sauces, glazes, batters, etc. before beginning to cook. 2) Cut the vegetables in similar sizes so ingredients cook evenly and the presentation looks more pleasing, i.e chunks, dice or shred. 3) Use fresh colorful vegetables. 4) A rule of thumb; start cooking with aromatics (garlic, ginger or onions), then add the vegetables beginning with the hardest first (carrot or broccoli) and ending with the softest last (mushrooms or bamboo shoots) so everything is evenly cooked. 5) When cooking in a wok,
the meat mixture causes browned bits on the bottom of the wok. Once you remove the meat from the wok, use your wok spatula to scrap the bits off the pan then wipe them off the spatula onto a paper towel so they are mostly removed. If you continue cooking the vegetables the bits become darker and may even burn.
Ginger – Rather than mincing the ginger, grate it against a microplane grater.
Egg – Save the yolk and the rest of the white for a scramble.
Bamboo Shoots – Bamboo shoot tips can be purchased in an Asian grocer. They’re more tender than those on the Asian aisle in the supermarket and can be cut in cubes. Sliced bamboo shoots could be used in this recipe.
Mushrooms – Dry Shitake mushrooms can be purchased at an Asian grocer. They keep on the shelf for a long time, a year or more. Rich in flavor and slightly chewy, they’re a very authentic Chinese ingredient. Or, substitute fresh crimini mushrooms cut in chunks.
Creating a well in the center of the pan speeds cooking the glaze and prevents the vegetables from becoming limp and over cooked.
- Exchange pecans for cashews or walnuts.
- Exchange chicken breast for thigh meat.
- Exchange red for yellow or orange peppers.
- Exchange bamboo shoots for sliced water chestnuts.
- Exchange sugar snap peas for snow peas.
Inspiration – Ying Ling Liu
Cook with Sauces
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: September 21, 2012