Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stir-Fried Chicken with Broccoli

I'm typing this while listening to the little boy across the street throw a giant temper tantrum at top volume. He's inside his house, I'm inside my place, and still his anger reaches my ears. I'm not sure if this is the same fit I watched him throw on their driveway a couple of hours ago, but I suspect they're probably related if this is a new one. He was very dramatic, all doubled over and holding his head while screaming. It was highly entertaining to watch out the window while the onions cooked.

I need to learn to throw cooking caution to the wind. Why? Because my version of this recipe should be called "Stir-Fried Chicken with Mushy Broccoli". I cook things too much with too much caution. After figuring out the hard way that I should have blanched the broccoli first as the recipe directs, I proceeded to do so carefully. I don't blanch much. Nor do I know how to brown cashews. More on that later.

The recipe said that the broccoli or cauliflower needed to be cooked until it browned and was tender, but not mushy. First of all, I was using broccoli because it was on sale and the cauliflower wasn't. Secondly, in my experience including tonight, broccoli doesn't "brown" unless it's burning. This was my mistake. I kept waiting for it to brown past the suggested 5 minute mark which resulted in eventual overcooking by the end of the recipe. Alas...

I did cook the chicken thoroughly, and even managed to put on a pot with rice to start cooking at the same time. I'm venturing into scary new territory here. Cooking pasta? No problem. Cooking rice? Aiyee! Too finicky, too easy to mess up. Thus I have avoided cooking it (the long way, no instant here) all these years. But I'm a big girl now so I had to try. Funny things happen when you're checking Facebook while waiting for the chicken to de-pink itself, and the rice to come to a boil: the rice comes to a boil very silently. This you will not notice until you are stirring the chicken and trying to remember if the other pot on the stove is clean or dirty. Crap! Turn down heat, set timer, and DON'T TOUCH! I stir everything, but the box does not say "stir the rice", so I leave it alone. It ended up kind of mushy but I cooked it some more on low and pretended the problem was fixed.

I omitted the ginger in this recipe because I don't like fresh ginger. I only like ginger snap cookies and gingerbread people/houses, but the recipe didn't say I could substitute with those unfortunately. I also didn't put in the scallions because a) I didn't know what they are while grocery shopping and forgot to Google them ahead of time, and b) they weren't where I looked in the produce section when I figured they were probably some kind of perishable vegetable thing. I also didn't add the sugar or cornstarch, I used water instead of opening a can of stock, the hoisin sauce was scrapped because I didn't feel like looking high and low for it at the store only to never use it again, and the garlic was a bit of a disaster.

I should probably mince the garlic ahead of time in the future. I'll go one step further and check it for quality before going grocery shopping too. I looked and saw that I had 3 white bundles of it while making my list, but neglected to use my xray vision to see that the cloves inside were almost all gnarly and inedible. I did manage to extract a teeny bit with a ridiculous amount of mess and effort but I question whether it was worthwhile. I'm switching to the cubes of garlic.

In the end, the stir fry is pretty tasty and completely edible. You just won't have to chew it much. It looks pretty jaundiced in the photo, but is not quite so scary in real life. The cashews probably would not have been so um, squishy? if I'd roasted them first. I opted out of doing so because I didn't know how, but I've got some suggestions in hand now. Next time, next time. At least no one will get salmon poisoning from my well-cooked chicken.

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