No. 317: Ginger-Basil Chicken Stir Fry

We are so excited, we have a new family member joining us soon!

And no, I'm not pregnant and it's not a puppy:)

Saskhia will be joining our family as our au pair for the year. She will be living with us, taking care of the kiddos and taking classes in Asheville. She arrives today in New York for a week of training and will be with us starting Friday.

And we are SO excited. After many Skype dates and email conversations we can't wait to meet her in person.

Even better? Saskhia loves to cook and bake. Yay! She is bringing some of her favorite South African recipes to make with our family.

Despite Mr. McC and I traveling there five years ago, we honestly don't remember having authentic "South African" food during our two week stay other than maybe some kudu on safari. So we are excited to learn from her in the kitchen.

Stay tuned for some fantastic international faire!

Ginger-Basil Chicken Stir Fry

So, the marketing folks at Blue Apron suckered me in for a couple more weeks of meal deliveries.

What can I say? I'm enjoying the ease of gourmet cooking with no thought or time committed to it.

This ginger-basil stir fry sounded like a delicious spin on a McC family favorite.

But, I will admit I cancelled the rest of our deliveries. I can't justify the price tag of $20 per meal, no matter how delicious and easy it may be. We've got twins to keep in diapers, people!

Ingredients

10 ounces chicken thighs, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 scallions, sliced with white and green parts separated
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced on diagonal in 1-inch thick rounds
1/4 pound Tinkerbell peppers (about 6)*, de-seeded and sliced into rings
Large bunch Thai basil
2 cups jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk
Generous pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons Ponzu sauce (citrus and soy-based sauce)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

*Feel free to use pre-made sauces for ease, though I put a link for homemade Ponzu above. You can also sub yellow, orange and red bell pepper for the Tinkerbells.

To make

Prep all your ingredients to have at the ready. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Prepped items

Rinse and drain rice in cold water. Place in a saucepan with water, coconut milk, and salt. Place the pot over high heat and, bring the liquid to a boil. Stir and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pot tightly with the lid. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let stand 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with fork and put in a warm place until ready to serve.

While rice is cooking, in a large nonstick pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil until hot. Add the eggplant in a single, even layer. Season with salt and pepper and cook about three minutes per side until softened and browned (but don't let it get mushy - it will cook a bit more at the end). Transfer to a plate.

Eggplant

In the same pan you used to cook the eggplant, heat an additional 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes).

Add the garlic, ginger, white parts of the scallions and Tinkerbell peppers. Season with salt and pepper and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Then add the cooked eggplant, sweet chili sauce, ponzu sauce, 1 tablespoon of water, half the Thai basil (torn or chopped right before adding), and half the green scallions.

Finishing the stir fry

Cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes to let sauce thicken slightly and flavors meld together. Remove from heat.

To serve, dish out the rice into bowls and divide the finished stir fry between them. Garnish with remaining Thai basil and scallions.

The results

It's all about the sauces and ginger in this dish. Holy cow. All of them elevate this beyond your typical Wednesday night stir fry.

Final dish

Typical of a stir fry, this was a cinch to make as well. Dinner was prepped, cooked and dishes were done in under 45 minutes. Seriously easy gourmet.

And it's not out of your reach. This recipe immediately made me realize there are a few fantastic ways you can fancy up your stir fry tonight with no fuss:

  • Thighs over breasts: Use fatty and tender chicken thighs for additional flavor.
  • Upgrade the rice: Using coconut or lime brings a zing that cuts through the rest of the dish.
  • Add eggplant: I had never had stir fry with eggplant, at least not at home. I loved the meaty depth it brought overall without overdoing it on the chicken. So yummy.
  • Fresh ginger: It does make a difference. Of course you can use ground ginger at home, but come on ... don't you want to know what the real stuff can do?

I'll be stocking up our pantry with some ponzu and sweet chili sauce in the future. This will be my new go-to stir fry.

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