Maria’s Colorful Dairy and Grain Free Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
When my husband and I were newlyweds, I really didn’t know how to cook. Couple of years down the road, after both my husband and I had suffered enough, I decided to make some changes. I started attending a cooking class. The two chefs were sisters and were from Philippines. Initially I wondered what I could learn from them that would be easy and inexpensive. They were excellent cooks, and I felt a bit displaced. But lucky for me, I stuck it out for the entire 12 week course. If I could remember their names, I totally would give them the full credit for being awesome!! They taught me to have fun and dare to try to be creative in the kitchen. One of the meals we cooked, was a basic stir fry. Honestly I had never eaten stir fry prior to that day (seriously, don’t judge me, this is 1991 – before internet 😉 ). I wish I could remember their recipe, but I don’t (I’m really bummed about it!). Since then, I have experimented with different recipes, and I finally think I have figured out my favorite version of my own colorful dairy and grain free chicken and vegetable stir fry.
History of Stir Fry
Stir fry was introduced back in the mid 40’s, by Chinese immigrants. They brought their skills and recipes to America and Europe, and gradually stir fry has become a wide spread way of cooking. One of the many reasons that classic stir fry has become so popular, is because of its method of cooking. It’s interesting to note, that historically, cooking in a wok with hot oil was not popular in China. Oil was expensive and people preferred steaming or boiling their food. But by late 16th Century popularity grew for stir frying because of how quick they could throw a meal together. As life changed in the big city, speed became an important factor. Contrary to what I have always thought, Chinese cuisine is not only stir fry. This technique only consist a small portion of their many cooking styles.
The idea is that you add variety of ingredients in sequence of each other. Commonly starting with the the ingredient that takes the longest to cook.
Method of Cooking
Stir frying in a wok (a traditional used pan) is one of the easier techniques in cooking. That is probably why when I attended my 12 week cooking course, stir fry recipe was the first lesson. If you want to use authentic methods, then you have to place your wok over a hot fire cooking top. But we don’t need to worry about that today. Any wok and stove top will do the job perfectly. Actually, my husband was just asking me if I wanted to replace my old wok that my dad bought me. I told him that my 14 year old pan was just fine, and a new one didn’t consist of any new tricks. I’d rather use that money to buy more flowers ;-). Stir frying is quick and most often can be served within 30-35 minutes. If you choose to go vegetarian or vegan, that can cut your time significantly. The longest part of this manner of cooking is in the preparation of cutting everything up. However don’t chop your veggies, (unless you have 2 minutes to cook), but instead depending on the choice of vegetables, you want to slice them (or florets like broccoli and cauliflower).
Preserved Nutritional Value
When I hear the word fry and oil I think of fried food. This does not go well with me. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m only a human too. I would love some fried frog legs (got used to those in little Rock, Arkansas). Sorry didn’t mean to gross you out (better not mention kidney and liver stew ;-). But unfortunately fried food is not good for me or most people for that matter. The frying technique used in “stir fry” is totally different. It’s actually one of the healthiest ways one can prepare a hot meal. The fast cooking helps the vegetables to retain their nutritional value, as well as texture and color. Making stir fry cooking, totally awesome and beautiful!!! A study that was done at the University of Nebraska, proved that the longer veggies cook the greater the loss of vitamin C. They discovered that stir frying in coconut oil, next to steaming in microwave, was the best method in preserving nutritional values. After reading the study, I found it interesting that using coconut oil retained better values than using water.
Choice of Ingredients
The cool thing about stir fry is, that the choice of ingredients is limitless. You can also make changes to any recipe to fit your personal needs and wants. You can use beef, chicken, seafood or completely skip meat. The choice of veggies are only limited by a person’s preference. I know I have used squash, zucchini, onion, eggplant (not my favorite with this method), varies sprouts, baby corn, chestnuts, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, nappa cabbage, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, kale, chard, cauliflower, leeks and cashews. Garlic for me is a must in stir fry. The next thing which I usually use is fresh or dry ginger. I prefer coconut oil above olive oil in this case, because coconut oil can tolerate heat much better. You can also use noodles in the stir fry for the sake of variety.
But what about flavor? This is where each recipe offers its own unique touch and end result. For seasoning I have chosen few products that may be a bit different than what you’d normally use. Just remember, as always ingredients can always be substituted. Instead of soy sauce, I use my coconut aminos to make it allergen friendly. This particular recipe contains toasted sesame seeds oil with its deep, rich nutty flavor. Toasted sesame oil has deeper flavor than the regular version. In order to keep its flavor in tact, we need to add it at the end of our cooking time. Otherwise there is a possibility the oil will taste a little bitter. I also like to use rice vinegar in my stir fry for a specific reason. With its high acid content, it allows the flavors to be enhanced and balanced, in particular the sweet flavors. I usually like to add a little sweet red chili.
- If you use regular soy sauce, make sure to cut way back on salt (you might have to skip the salt completely).
- Instead of sweet red chili, use 1/2 Tablespoon sugar and some red chili flakes.
- You can substitute rice vinegar with apple cider or white wine vinegar.
- Fresh ginger can be replaced with 1/2 Tablespoon ginger powder
- As far as the veggies, you can use what ever works for you (just make sure you cook the most tender veggies at the end).
- If you want to replace the mung bean sprout with noddles, then feel free to do that. However remember to boil the noodles separately before adding to the stir fry. Also when you use noodles, they tend to soak up a lot of flavoring, so you may have to experiment with your seasoning.
- I like to use coconut milk in can. The regular fresh kind works well, it’s just less creamy.
Maria’s Colorful Allergen Friendly Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
Yield: 4 Servings Prep Time: 15-20 min Cook Time: 15 min
1 Lb (16 Oz) / (450 Gram) Small Thin Sliced Chicken Breast
1 Tablespoon Coconut oil
2 Teaspoon Rice Vinegar
3 Tablespoon Coconut Aminos
1 Tablespoon Sweet Red Chili
1 Tablespoon Roasted Sesame Oil
2 Teaspoon Salt (more or less)
1 Tablespoon Freshly Minced Ginger
4 Cloves Pressed Fresh Garlic
1 Cup Coconut Milk (Unsweetened)
2 Large Carrots – Peeled and Sliced Thin Like Sticks (Julienne)
1 Medium Sized Sliced Yellow Onion
1/2 Large Red Bell Pepper Sliced Like Thin Sticks
3 Green Onions Cut in 4-5 Pieces Per Onion
2 Cup Broccoli Cut into Florets
1 Handful Mung Bean Sprouts
Cut up your chicken breast in thin slices (julienne), likewise prepare your veggies. In a warmed up wok (or any large pan), add your coconut oil and the prepared chicken breast in a single layer.
Allow your chicken to cook thru until golden (4-5 min). Stir it occasionally to get even coloring.
Add your aminos, rice vinegar and the sweet red chili. Stir it and then add the sliced onion.
Cook the onion for 2-3 minutes with the chicken. Then add the ginger, garlic and carrots. Combine gently and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and gently mix stir.
Next step is to add the sesame oil, bell peppers, green onions. Stir them for 1-2 minutes.
Lastly add your broccoli florets stir and then gently fold in the mung bean sprouts. Add the salt (you may want to add less amount and top it off as needed) After combining gently for one minute. Remove off the heat.
PS! with stir fry there is a window of preference of how well cooked veggies should be. Some prefer a little softer, while others like it more firm. The minutes are approximate and the size or choice of veggies may make a difference too.
You can serve this as is, for both dinner or lunch, or you can add a side of noodles. I don’t mind eating leftover from this stir fry. It tastes just as good. The only difference is that the veggies get a little softer. This meal makes a great weeknight dinner. Especially if all your veggies are already cut up the night before. It’s real easy to have fun with cooking variety of veggies. Be brave and bold, you’re the chef!
PPS! Once you have purchased some of the seasoning items, they go long ways. Making this meal very affordable. Always compare prices, you’ll be surprised how much they vary, from store to store.