As most people know, I’m a sucker for Asian fare and have often tried to master the techniques and flavors with varied outcomes. One thing that was always perplexing was the silkiness of the chicken and pork, to which I have deployed various brine and marinating combinations…to no avail. I finally sucked it up and asked one of my Asian friends, who exposed me to the miracle of baking soda and cornstarch, which are apparently prevalent in many Chinese restaurants. Not only do they add a silky texture, but they also serve to rid the meat of any unpleasant odors…pretty sure if there’s an odor of this sort it shouldn’t be served, but that’s a topic for another day.
Serves 3 – 4
2 lbs boneless chicken cubed to uniformity
1 8 oz package (each) of shitake and hon shimeji mushrooms (cut any large shitake in half and remove the lower base of the hon shimeji)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced thin and in strips
3 tbsp of safflower oil (works better in high heat situations – EVOO is a big no-no)
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
1 scallion, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp of ponzu sauce
1/2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
Start by marinating the chicken in the baking soda; ensure all pieces are covered and let stand for 20 – 30 minutes; rinse the chicken completely and pat dry. For the second marinade, combine the corn starch and rice wine vinegar and marinate the chicken for an additional 20 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating prepare the mushrooms and heat the oil on high in a wok; add the ginger, garlic and spices and cook for about a minute, or until golden and then add the mushrooms and cook for another minute and remove; having a strong vent hood is really helpful here!
Next, add the chicken and cook until done; about 2-3 minutes. Then add the mushrooms back and combine with the ponzu and hoisin and cook everything together for about 30 seconds. Finally top with the chopped scallions and season with salt and pepper as desired!
Congratulations, you have now mastered Chinese stir fry and will no longer need to frequent Peking Palace #4 or Golden Dragon Eatery!