Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Recipe: Honey Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry + Technique: Ginger Cubes

Honey Sesame Chicken is a mealtime favorite at our house. We like going out to Asian buffet restaurants, but it's difficult to do with food allergies because even if somebody would tell you the ingredients there are just too many dishes to ask about all of them. So this is my attempt at allergen-free restaurant-style Chinese food. Luckily Chinese food is very versatile. If you're soy-allergic or gluten-free you can substitute for the soy sauce; if you're vegan, use Portabello mushrooms or tofu for the chicken. We thicken the sauce with arrowroot when Princess is off corn.

I will warn you, though: this one is SWEET. If you don't like it sweet you may want to cut back the honey. On the other hand, if you want your kids to eat it, you might leave it as is. Also, this is a family size recipe. If you're cooking for fewer people, half it, or else make it all and freeze half for later.

I really love ginger. It's one of my absolute favorite flavors. So I love putting as much fresh ginger as I can get away with in every dish I can get away with putting it in (FH isn't fond of strong ginger flavor). However, I hate peeling ginger. I like to pick ginger roots that are most nearly spherical, since this minimizes the ratio of peel to delicious ginger root. However, I only really need a little ginger for each recipe, and that purpose is best served by a narrow root which you can cut off a bit of at a time.

So I found a solution to this: I buy a whole lot of fat ginger roots at a time, peel them, chop them in the food processor, and freeze them in an ice cube tray, adding a little water to hold the cubes together. I keep the frozen ginger cubes in a baggie in the freezer and pull out one at a time. I got the idea from, of all places, a vintage baby food cookbook. I used to make baby food and freeze it in ice cube trays so that I could make it once and defrost just the right quantity. After that I started making all kinds of ice cube tray ingots-- I found, for example, that a standard plastic ice cube tray makes ingots of beeswax perfectly sized for making batches of ointment, with 1 ingot per 1 cup of herb-infused oil. And broth cubes are really great to put in a child's hot soup to cool it off.

So this recipe calls for a ginger cube. If you don't have ginger cubes just put in some minced fresh ginger, about the same volume as an ice cube.


Honey Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry

2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped in 1" chunks
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1-2 packages frozen stir-fry vegetables OR 24 oz. white mushrooms, small ones halved, large ones quartered
1 ginger cube
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. water
6 Tbsp. arrowroot, cornstarch, or potato starch
1-2 green onions, chopped

Heat oils over medium high heat in 12" skillet. When hot, add chicken and saute until mostly white (if using fresh veggies, saute until exterior is all white). Add veggies and ginger cube and saute until veggies are cooked. In the meantime, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, water, and arrowroot. When veggies are cooked, add sauce and green onions, and stir constantly until sauce thickens. Serve with rice.