black pepper chicken stir-fry

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just a simple chinese stir-fry with lots of fragrant black pepper to help combat the cold we’re feeling in London this week.

I’m not including quantities because I think the beauty of cooking – and Chinese-style in particular – is that you can add more of what you want and none of what you dislike, and all you have to do is ensure that the tastes balance out.

this dish is more commonly cooked with beef, but I had chicken on hand and used it without problems. be creative! be fearless!

cut florets off the broccoli tree and quarter/half them depending on their size. if you’ve never eaten the broccoli stalk before, you’re really missing out – it’s sweet and nutty and to me, the best part of the vegetables. next, dice 4 cloves of garlic coarsely – do it more finely if you like a greater garlic flavour – and slice 1 onion to approximately 1.5cm. I would use 2 onions if I were just cooking for myself, but since my partner is particularly (negatively-)sensitive to garlic and onion, I tend to keep their quantities lower than I personally prefer.

dice up your meat of choice – I buy it pre-diced but those chunks are usually too large and so I still go at it till they are more uniformly bite-sized. marinate it with sesame oil and dark soya sauce, before throwing on a measure of cornflour. leave this to sit for about 10 minutes, or as long as you can wait.

at this point I chose to boil my rice noodles in a pan of salted water before starting the stir-fry. after the noodles are cooked, drain them and set aside.

heat up a mix of sesame oil and vegetable oil in a large pot, and when the oil is warm enough to flow about and coat your pan, throw the onions and garlic in. I don’t like to put the aromatics in when the oil is hot because that usually leads to burning, wheras here you want the onions and garlic to soften. throw in a measure of coarse black pepper – people usually use fresh ground but I’m lazy and not-so-particular, so a jar of coarse ground black pepper works for me – and stir-fry till you can smell the pepper.

throw in the meat, which might stick together – but don’t worry – and stir regularly until mostly seared on the outside. throw in the broccoli, give it all a good stir; and then pour in some light soya sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil and stir to taste. now pour in a measure of hot water – this creates the sauce – and put the lid on so the broccoli and chicken can steam in that tasty environment.

when all cooked, I removed the chicken and vegetables from the pot to make more sauce and thicken it with a cornflour slurry – cornflour mixed with cold water. stir the ingredients back into the sauce, and serve over rice or noodles.

so comforting.

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