Sweet & Spicy Chicken

I am currently writing this with a chopped thumb.  It was not my intention to offer my own appendages as dinner tonight but evidently that was my slippery hand’s secret plan. So I thought I would take a break from the kitchen and discuss life for a moment.

I miss writing.  It feels quite liberating to at least get this little bit out during the day, but it’s nothing compared to the creativity that burns inside, screaming to get out of the oven and be served to the world (I didn’t say I was good, just that I have the desire).  You would think that having moved and gained so much free time would grant me the ability to write everything out, but I think I fail at creating a routine.  As such, I just struggle to sit down and let my stories bubble forth.  It’s frustrating, because I have started on something quite special to me, but I haven’t been able to build on it for the last few weeks.  It also doesn’t help that we have a lot of paperwork to get through, and the home is still in starter-mode, meaning we have so much to get settled in, so my mind is all over the place, not allowing any of the daily stress to flow our for a moment and give me breathing room.

So it helps that I have a kitchen all to myself, and even if I have a somewhat particular palette to cater to (my husband has his peculiarities haha), for the most part I can whip up anything I like and let the creativity flow as far as our strained budget will allow.  I feel alive and challenged in there.

How ironic then that today I’m falling back on something I used to make all the time and is really just a fun breeze for me?  Where’s the creativity, Alya? Where’s your challenge??  Well, we all need a simple summer beach book sometimes in place of the modern masterpiece or literary classic that typically challenges our brain.  Just the same, I am angling for something warm and happy for me right now, especially as I have a sliced thumb and a pile of laundry needing to be put away.  So I’m whipping up a sweet and spicy stir fry chicken.  (Incidentally, the thumb suffered during a routine battle with an onion for some palak paneer I am trying out from recipe book.  Shall discuss that another time).

Ingredients:

 

To preseason chicken:

  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into small cubes
  • salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder (cayenne)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Water

 

Everything Else

  • Flour
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp rice vinegar
  • A couple splashes of water
  • 1 bag frozen stir fry vegetable
  • Chopped scallions, to garnish (optional)
  • Cilantro leaves, to garnish (optional)

 

Easy part first, mix a few teaspoons of salt together with the chili powder, and sugar in a bowl.  Add the chicken and enough water to just cover the chicken.  Mix it up and set it aside for an hour (a couple hours even).  This keeps the chicken breast softer when it’s cooked.

Now, normally I would use cornstarch but as I can’t possibly have every staple in my cupboard just yet (always remember something else I’m missing!) so I opted for flour.  When ready to start cooking, drain the chicken in a colander and tap it dry.  Then, in a separate bowl add a few tablespoons of flour and toss the chicken in it.  You don’t want excess flour sprinkling off so don’t feel the need to laboriously coat the chicken.

Next, time to brown and cook the chicken.  In a large frying pan, heat the oil up (I used extra light olive oil) and lay all the chicken in so nothing it stuck together and it’s all sizzling.  Resist the temptation to constantly toss and stir – you need the chicken to get nicely browned on each side.  The chicken will all become uniformly light light brown, and then you can turn the heat down just a little (from medium-high to just medium).  Now add the garlic and toss the chicken around to let it cook while you get the sauce prepared.

Mix together the soy sauce, chili powder, sugar, vinegar and a little water, and add it to the chicken.  It should thicken up a little bit from the flour coating the chicken.  If you want it to be even thicker, mix some water and flour together separately and pour that in little by little.

At this point keep the ingredients handy because it’s all taste now – you might want more saltiness (add soy) or sweet (sugar) or spicy (chili).  You may also want to add more liquid in general, in which case mix all the ingredients separately again and add to the pan.  The chicken will get coated with a scrumptious glistening sheen in the silky thick sauce.

 

Finally, add about half the bag of frozen veggies, mixing thoroughly into the pan.  Lower the heat and cover the pan, letting the veggies cook and soak in the aroma and flavors from the dish for 3-4 minutes.

Garnish it with some chopped scallions (which sadly I did not have) or cilantro (which I always do!) and enjoy with some delectable white rice (which I suck at making!).

 

I’m really happy this turned out as delicious as I remember!!  G devoured it too, so I take that as a good sign.

Now, time to clean up. Alas.

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