The Thai name for this dish is Pad Krapao meaning “fried holy basil”. It is a fragrant, flavor-packed Thai stir-fry. Despite the dishes name, the basil isn’t actually fried, but wilted into the mix at the very end of cooking.
Our holy basil—which has a peppery, menthol-like bite—was done for the season, so we opted to use our fresh Thai basil, still going strong in the raised herb bed. Sweet Italian basil is a third choice; but if using either of the last two, you’ll need to use 50% more.
To top it all off, a fried egg with a runny yolk is used, adding creaminess while the crisp edges provide crunch. Not typically a fan of runny yolks, I decided to go with it for this recipe. Glad I did because it did add not only to the flavor but also the contrasting textures.
As with most stir-fries, don’t start cooking until all of the ingredients are prepped and near the stove. And don’t cook those eggs in advance because they should still be warm when added to the dish. If you prefer a more fiery kick, don’t discard the chili seeds.
Thai Stir-Fried Pork with Basil, Chilies and Garlic
4 or 5 Fresno chilies. stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp. grapeseed oil, divided
4 large eggs
1 lb. ground pork
2 cups (1oz.) lightly packed holy basil OR 3 cups lightly packed Thai or Italian basil, torn
Steamed jasmine rice to serve
In a food processor, combine the garlic and chilies. Pulse until finely chopped, with some slightly larger pieces remaining, 8 to 10 pulses.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, sou sauce, fish sauce, sugar and a 1⁄2 cup water. Set both the garlic-chili mixture and the sauce mixture near the stove.
In a 12- or 14-inch wok over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until barely smoking. Reduce to medium, the crack 2 eggs into the center of the wok, each in a different spot. Use a silicone spatula to gently push edges of the egg whites toward the yolk to keep the eggs separate.
Cook, occasionally spooning some of the hot oil over the eggs until the whites are crisp and brown on the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, transfer the eggs to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining to 2 eggs. Wipe out wok.
Return the wok to medium-high and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oiluntil barely smoking. Add the garic-chili mixture and cook, stirring until fragrant and lightly browned.
Add the pork and cook, stirring, until the meat is broken up into mostly small bits, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until pork is no longer pink and the liquid thickens slightly but remains saucy, about 3 minutes.
Off heat add the basil and stir until just wilted. Divide the rice and the stir-fry among serving plates and top each with an egg.
This tasty Asian sauce is quite adaptable to any stir-fry. Go ahead and double it if desired so that you have enough for an additional stir-fry in the future. The choice of vegetables is also a personal preference, but try to keep the total amounts about the same.
Prep all ingredients before you start the stir-fry. We substituted hatch chile peppers for the green bell because it was a new item that we had never tried before. They look very similar to long hots, which are quite spicy. The package indicated they had a medium heat level—we thought they were milder than that. They also take a bit longer than the red bell pepper to soften in the wok.
6-8 scallions, trimmed with whites cut into 1″ lengths, greens sliced thin for garnish
4 garlic scape stems cut into 1/2″lengths; or 3 garlic cloves sliced thin
1 each red and green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
I lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup white rice, cooked according to package directions
Heat a large wok on high. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. When smoking, add scallions and garlic stirring constantly for 2 minutes, then place into a large bowl.
Add 1 more tablespoon to wok and toss in bell pepper pieces, stir continuously for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften. Put in bowl with scallions.
Put final tablespoon peanut oil into wok and then add chicken. Let chicken sit in hot wok for one full minute before you start to flip; then stir until the pink disappears. Add chicken to bowl with vegetables.
Pour reserved black bean sauce into wok, when hot dump all of the bowl ingredients into wok and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Serve steamed rice on each dinner plate topped with stir-fry. Garnish with chopped basil and scallion greens.
This riff on the ever-evolving Chinese American standard features gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and filet mignon: The luxurious cut is ideal for quick, high-heat cooking; is readily available in small portions; and just needed a brief chill in the freezer to firm up for easy slicing before being coated in a simple mixture of soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch.
While the meat chills, slice the gai lan stalks thin on the bias and cut the tender leaves into wide ribbons. Start the stir-fry by cooking the stalks in oil in a hot wok. As they sizzle, the oil smolders, infusing the dish with a smoky aroma. Then set the stalks aside and stir-fry the leaves with garlic and toasted sesame oil, speeding their cooking with a small but flavorful addition of chicken broth before arranging them on a serving platter.
Finally, stir-fry the marinated beef; returned the stalks to the wok; and stir in a blend of chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, toasted sesame oil, and cornstarch. The sauce thickens in less than a minute. Arrange the beef mixture over the leaves, ensuring that each bite is perfectly sauced. If desired, serve with steamed rice.
If gai lan is unavailable, you can use broccolini, substituting the florets for the gai lan leaves. Do not use standard broccoli. In the end, we found it served 3 sufficiently, or 4 “small plates”.
Cut beef into 4 equal wedges. Transfer to plate and freeze until very firm, 20 to 25 minutes. While beef freezes, prepare gai lan. Remove leaves, small stems, and florets from stalks; slice leaves crosswise into 1½-inch strips (any florets and stems can go into pile with leaves); and cut stalks on bias into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Set aside.
When beef is firm, stand 1 piece on its side and slice against grain ¼ inch thick. Repeat with remaining pieces. Transfer to bowl. Add 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch and toss until beef is evenly coated. Set aside.
In second bowl, whisk together ½ cup broth, oyster sauce, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, remaining 4 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch; set aside.
In third bowl, combine 4 teaspoons vegetable oil, ginger, and ¼ teaspoon garlic.
Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in wok over high heat until just smoking. Add stalks and cook, stirring slowly but constantly, until spotty brown and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil, remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and remaining ½ teaspoon garlic to wok and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until vibrant green, about 1 minute. Add remaining ¼ cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread evenly on serving dish.
Add ginger-garlic mixture to wok and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook, stirring slowly but constantly, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Return stalks to wok and add oyster sauce mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens, 30 to 60 seconds. Place mixture on top of leaves. Serve.
Identity crisis? This quick meat and vegetable curry starts as a stir-fry then finishes as a braise—but a quick braise. Usually pork shoulder takes hours to braise in the oven, but since the meat is cut into thin strips, the time dwindles considerably. Boneless pork shoulder has a rich, full flavor; plus slicing it thin before cooking counters its chewiness.
Green beans cook alongside, absorbing the spiced broth and providing a fresh, vegetal contrast. Curry powder is used as a flavor base, and whole spices amp up the intensity. Just remember to remove the cardamom pods before serving (if you can see them). The Hubs got quite a jolt when he accidentally bit into one!
In some cases you have choices on which spice to use. We incorporated as much of them as possible, i.e. both onion and garlic. And in the case of the noodles, you can always substitute steamed rice instead.
1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 2-inch strips and sliced ¼ to ⅛ inch thick
2 tsp. curry powder
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped OR 8 medium garlic cloves, chopped OR both
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 cardamom pods, crushed OR 1 cinnamon stick OR 8 curry leaves OR a combination
8 oz. green beans, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
1 1⁄2 cups water
Rice OR cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the pork, curry powder, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the pork is well browned, about 4 minutes.
Add the onion, ginger and cardamom; cook, stirring, until the onion is browned, about 2 minutes.
Add the beans and 1½ cups water; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the sauce clings to the meat, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your rice or cellophane noodles according to package directions.
Remove and discard the cardamom from the sir-fry, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro OR toasted sesame seeds OR chopped chilies OR a combination
Thai stir-fries are one of our favorite go-to’s; and this recipe rachetes it up a notch with the addition of Thai cashews (find them at Trader Joe’s). And if you like bold flavors, then this will end up on your short list.
Originally from Milk Street, we scaled back on the chicken by 25%, but increased the bell pepper quotient by 100%, adding a yellow one along with the red pepper, making it more veggie-forward. Another change was doubling the sauce (except for the garlic). These alterations are noted in the recipe below.
And while you could pair it simply with steamed jasmine rice, you might want to try the Coconut Rice recipe below for even more depth of flavor.
I have to give a shout-out to these fabulous Trader Joe’s Thai cashews. Not only are they a fabulous snack right out of the bag, but they’re perfect for this dish. If you can get your hands on them, by all means do so.
NOTE: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.
1 1⁄2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some of the dark green cut into smaller pieces for garnish
1/2 cup roasted Thai cashews, roughly chopped
Start coconut rice, directions below.
For the Stir-fry: In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir 1/2 cup water into the marinade and set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.
Heat a bit more oil in the wok, stir in the bell peppers and scallions. Stir-fry for several minutes until just starting to brown. Add chicken back to the veggies.
Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Toss in the cashew pieces, cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
Taste and season with white pepper. Spoon over cooked coconut rice and garnish with scallion greens.
Similar to it’s meat cousin, Pork-Fried Rice, this vegetable version with simple seasonings and a balance of mix-ins makes for a frugal and incredibly satisfying meal—or side dish. Typically you use day old rice, but if you cook rice like pasta, in other words in a lot of water with salt for 10 minutes then drain and cool it, you don’t have to make it ahead of time. Plus cooking it like pasta rids the raw grains of any surface starch so that it readily breaks apart into individual grains.
But, if you have leftover rice here’s the deal. Day-old jasmine rice works best; the varietal is loaded with a popcorn-y aromatic compound that perfumes the fried rice with gorgeous fragrance, and when stir-fried, the hard, dry clumps relax into tender-firm, distinct grains. All rice should be roughly room temperature when you stir-fry.
To make fluffy, tender pockets of scrambled eggs, pour the raw beaten eggs into oil that is just smoking (not merely shimmering); the eggs will puff as their water rapidly turns to steam and their proteins set.
There’s no garlic or ginger to mince, no spices or curry paste to bloom, and no sauce to mix up, which keeps the prep work minimal and the backdrop neutral, not plain, simply highlighting the namesake ingredient: rice. However, you may want to serve with soy sauce on the side for those who wish a bit more flavor.
In case you are curious why this is labeled vegetarian, since they are not technically animal flesh, eggs are usually thought of as vegetarian. Eggs that have been fertilized and therefore have the potential to become an animal may not be considered vegetarian.
4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
4 cups cooked jasmine rice, room temperature
¼ tsp. pepper
½ cup frozen peas
Beat eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch carbon-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until oil is just smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
Add eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until very little liquid egg remains, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to the large plate.
Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty wok and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to plate with eggs.
Add scallion whites and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir until combined. (It’s OK if some clumps of rice remain.) Spread into even layer. Sprinkle pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt evenly over rice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and pressing on rice with spatula to break up clumps, until grains are separate and heated through, 2 to 5 minutes longer.
Add peas, egg and mushroom mixture, and scallion greens and cook, stirring frequently and using edge of spatula to break eggs into small pieces, until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.
Even though Kung Pao Chicken originated in China’s Sichuan Province, it has become an iconic Chinese-American dish. The popular stir-fry typically includes chicken, vegetables and peanuts tossed in a dark, salty, sweet and spicy sauce, but in this vegan take, cauliflower steps in for the chicken.
Dark soy sauce is more caramel-flavored and less salty than regular soy sauce, and it adds color and richness to the dish. If you don’t have dark soy, substitute with regular soy sauce or hoisin sauce.
Make sure you have a lid for your skillet or wok on hand before you start cooking, as covering the cauliflower allows it to cook quicker and more evenly. And as with any stir-fry, always prep each ingredient ahead of cooking because you won’t have time in between.
Now, The Hubs inadvertently made more sauce than called for. He was using the “ounce” side of the small measuring cup instead of the “tablespoon” side. So he ended up doubling the soy sauces, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. The vegetable stock remained at 1/4 cup. It ended up being a good mistake, as we tend to prefer our stir-fries on the saucier side anyway.
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), cut into small 2-inch-long florets
1 green or red bell pepper, core, seeds and membrane removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns, lightly ground in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or crushed with a rolling pin
8 whole dried chiles, such as er jing tiao or chiles de árbol
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 piece ginger, (1-inch) peeled and finely sliced
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
Steamed rice, to serve
In a small bowl, whisk together the dark soy sauce, soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, vegetable stock or water, and cornstarch. Set aside.
Heat wok or large (12-inch) skillet on medium-high until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, the cauliflower florets and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and toss for 1 minute. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing the cauliflower every 1 1/2 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is crisp-tender and charred in some parts. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same wok or skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of neutral oil, along with the bell pepper. Toss for 1 minute, then add the Sichuan peppercorns and whole dried chiles, and stir for 1 minute until fragrant.
Add the garlic and ginger, and stir for 30 seconds, then add the cauliflower back to the pan. Stir the sauce in the bowl to make sure the cornstarch is well incorporated, then pour it over the cauliflower and toss until the cauliflower is well coated.
Toss in the peanuts and scallions, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Serve with rice.
Yes indeed, the flavors in this colorful stir-fry from Milk Street are a fantastic combination of savory, sweet, tangy, garlicky, spicy and nutty. The chili-garlic sauce can be moderated depending on your tolerance for spicy, and those peanuts add just the right amount of crunch.
Briefly marinating the sliced tenderloin means that the meat browns beautifully in the skillet and also adds flavor and moisture to an otherwise lean and mild cut. Balsamic vinegar may seem like an odd ingredient in a stir-fry, but it mimics the subtle sweetness, moderate acidity and maltiness of Chinese black vinegar and probably already is in your pantry. Serve with steamed white rice.
Instead of a nonstick skillet, we used a well-seasoned wok. The Hubs swears you get a hotter heat with the added benefit of pushing ingredients up the sides.
Warning: Don’t use a conventional (that is not nonstick) skillet. The pork will char and stick to the skillet instead of nicely browning.
In a medium bowl, stir together the pork, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the minced garlic and the cornstarch. Let stand for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sherry, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce and vinegar.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat another 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Add the pork in an even layer and cook, stirring once or twice, until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the scallion whites and sliced garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
Add the pork and accumulated juices, sauce mixture and scallion greens; cook, stirring, until the sauce is lightly thickened, 30 to 60 seconds.
Off heat, stir in half the peanuts. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.
As with most stir-fries, this one is quick and tasty, perfect for a weeknight meal. Originally from EatingWell Magazine, we altered the ingredients by doubling the sauce, and amping up the amount of shiitake mushrooms. And if you’re squeamish about eating duck, go ahead and substitute pork tenderloin, chicken or even beef strips.
8 oz. boneless duck breast, skin removed and cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups sliced bok choy
7-8 shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Steamed rice, prepared as per package directions
Prepare steamed rice according to package directions.
Whisk chili-garlic sauce, water, vinegar, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.
Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Cook the duck, in a single layer, stirring once, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add garlic and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli and bok choy; cook, stirring, until the broccoli is bright green, about 2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the chili-garlic sauce mixture; cook, stirring often, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
Return the duck and any accumulated juices to the pan; stir to coat with the sauce. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
This Asian steak entrée gets loads of complexity from just a spoonful or two of flavor powerhouses like fresh ginger, peanut oil, and Asian chili paste, like sambal oelek—an Indonesian chile that adds a nice level of heat and a hint of sweetness to the quick stir-fry.
You definitely want to blister those beans, so keep stirring for 5-plus minutes over a very hot burner. Then when it’s time to cook the meat, it’s best to do so in two batches so as to sear the steak instead of steaming it.
4 green onions (white parts only), sliced diagonally
2 Tbsp. sweet rice wine (mirin)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. Asian chili paste (sambal oelek)
Sesame seeds, toasted; hot cooked rice; snipped fresh herbs; chopped green onion (optional)
Steamed rice according to package directions
If desired, trim and cut green beans in half diagonally.
Trim fat from meat. Thinly slice meat across the grain into bite-size strips.
In a small bowl combine garlic and ginger.
In an extra-large skillet or wok heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans; cook and stir 7 to 8 minutes or until blistered and brown in spots. Remove beans and drain on paper towels.
If necessary, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to hot skillet. Add garlic mixture; cook and stir 30 seconds.
Add meat, half at a time; cook and stir 3 minutes or until slightly pink in center. Return all of the meat to skillet. Add the next five ingredients (through chili paste); cook and stir 1 minute.
Return beans; cook and stir 2 minutes more or until heated through.
If desired, sprinkle meat mixture with sesame seeds and/or serve with rice sprinkled with herbs, chopped green onion, and/or coarse salt.
Instead of leaning on a sauce, “dry” stir-fries like this recipe use a small amount of liquid (in this case, fish sauce), relying on heat and movement in the wok to intensify each ingredient’s flavors. To ensure that the beans blister, dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel before cooking. Pickled sushi ginger adds mild, well-balanced sweetness and a hint of spice.
Where we took fault with this recipe as written, were the quantities. There is no way only 6 shrimp and the remaining ingredients would serve four adult portions, no way! So we doubled the shrimp from 6 to 12, and that amplified the volume enough for two decent servings. Those changes are noted in the recipe below.
Since this sauce-less dry-fry wouldn’t necessarily require a bed of rice, we opted for pan-fried dumplings. Trader Joe’s has a nice selection and we just happen to have some in our freezer. Russ whipped up a simple, yet tasty, dumpling dipping sauce (recipe below), and dinner done!
8 oz. peeled and deveined raw large shrimp (about 12 shrimp)
2 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided
12 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
1Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. yellow pickled ginger, minced
¼ tsp. granulated sugar
Pat shrimp dry using paper towels. Chop shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil. Add beans, and sprinkle with salt; reduce heat to medium-low so that beans are barely sizzling.
Cook, making quick scooping motions with a metal spatula, constantly tossing and tumbling (stir-frying) the beans until they just begin to blister and brown in spots and are almost tender, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer beans to a plate.
Increase heat under wok to high, and swirl in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add garlic; cook, stir-frying constantly, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
Add chopped shrimp, and break up any clumps using a metal spatula; cook, stir-frying constantly, until shrimp just take on an orange-pink hue, about 1 minute.
Return beans to wok, and add scallions, fish sauce, pickled ginger, and sugar; cook, stir-frying constantly, until shrimp are just cooked through and beans are tender, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
You’ll enjoy this unusual stir-fry combination utilizing fresh corn kernels cut from the cob. The corn, along with rice, does lean toward a carb-heavy meal, but it is so satisfying and full of flavor. Coating the chicken pieces in cornstarch thickens the sauce at the end so that it clings to the meat and veggies.
Rarely overpowering, oyster sauce is packed with umami and adds tons of depth to stir-fries like this one, boosting flavor in marinades, and just being all-around incredibly delicious. No ripe corn at the market? Bon Appétit suggests to swap in peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash.
As with any stir-fry, make sure to chop and prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because once you start cooking, the process goes incredibly fast and you need to keep swinging that metal spatula around.
½ tsp. (or more) Aleppo-style pepper or other mild chile flakes
3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
Steamed rice and cilantro leaves with tender stems (for serving)
Stir together oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Set aside.
Place chicken in a medium bowl. Season with salt and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss lightly to coat.
Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
To the wok, add red onion, garlic, ginger, Aleppo-style pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.
Add corn and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 3 minutes.
Return chicken to wok with vegetables.
Stir in reserved oyster sauce mixture and cook, tossing often, until reduced nearly to a glaze, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.
When it comes to Thai food, the cuisine ranks among the top of our ethnic food preferences. This classic from Milk Street, Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews raised the bar as the best version we’ve made at home. We pretty much followed the recipe to a T, except exchanging a medium-large red pepper in place of the small one. Oh, and of course we increased the amount of cashews 😉
Milk Street’s version uses mostly pantry staples and can be on the table in about 30 minutes. The chicken marinates for 15 minutes before cooking, and you can prep the bell pepper and scallions in the meantime. Serve the stir-fry with steamed jasmine rice.
Tip: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.
With stir-fries, most commonly we use our carbon steel wok, but our large cast-iron skillet happened to be sitting on the stovetop that evening, so it became the vehicle of choice. Choose your weapon—I mean skillet—according to your own preference, but don’t use a non-stick otherwise the chicken won’t brown well, if at all.
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some thinly sliced greens for garnish
1/2 cup roasted cashews, more for garnish if desired
In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and ¾ teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir ¼ cup water into the marinade and set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the bell pepper, scallions and cashews. Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
Sweet, Sour and Hot… no, this is not a romantic novel review. Hitting all the right notes, this quick and easy stir-fry, packs in savoriness from fish sauce and garlic, sweetness from a little sugar and spicy heat from pepper flakes. Thin slices of ultra-tender pork contrast the crisp snap of green beans, preferably haricot verts.
We took it a step further and added a bunch of scallions, the white and light green parts were stir-fried with the green beans, and the dark green slices were added as a garnish along with the chopped cilantro. Next time we intend to toss in some red bell pepper strips too, which will add a nice pop of color along with extra nutrients.
In addition, we doubled the sauce, which at first we thought might have been too much. But in the end, it was the perfect amount to coat the pork and veggies. I made the adjustments in the list of ingredients below. Serve with steamed rice, and if you like, additional fish sauce at the table.
Caution, don’t stir the beans and pork too often. Stirring just once or twice during cooking allows them to char and develop flavor. Also, don’t forget to stir the sauce mixture just before adding it to the skillet, as the cornstarch settles to the bottom upon standing. In our opinion, we feel using a wok is a much better vehicle for getting a good char when stir-frying.
8 oz. green beans, cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly, white and light green parts divided from dark green
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices (optional)
1¼ pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch slices
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, pepper flakes and ¼ cup water. Set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet over high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beans and scallion whites and light green slices. Cook, stirring once or twice, until charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
If you are using red bell pepper, stir-fry them next as you did the green beans. When slightly charred, add to same bowl as beans.
In the same pan over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the pork in an even layer. Cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Return the beans (and red pepper, if using) to the pan, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Whisk the fish sauce mixture to recombine, then add to the pan and reduce to medium. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce thickens slightly and clings to the meat, about 60 seconds. Off heat, stir in the cilantro. Garnish with scallion greens.
It was finally the last of our 8-pound ham which was earmarked to be used in this Indonesian-Style Ham Stir-fry recipe. Nearly seven years had passed since we resurrected it from when I first started this blog. Why did we wait so long? Who knows, but it’s not often that we have a large ham with plenty of leftovers.
Once we practically licked our plates clean, we decided the next time we make this we’ll double the sauce (we are saucy people!) And as with most stir-fries, make sure to prep all of the ingredients ahead of time because the actual on-hands cooking portion takes just minutes.
Spicy and sweet, this quick stir-fry dinner needed only short-grain sticky rice to complete it. In lieu of waiting to have leftover ham, you could always buy 1 1/2 pounds of ham steak and cube that up.
6 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 Tbs. minced fresh lemongrass
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces (2-1/2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1-1/2 lb. leftover ham, cut into medium dice (4 cups)
1/3 cup chicken broth
*TIP: If you don’t have or can’t find keycap manis (and againwe couldn’t), a syrupy Indonesian soy sauce, you can substitute 1-1/2 Tbs. soy sauce combined with 1-1/2 Tbs. unsulfured molasses.
Whisk the keycap manis (or your substitute), vinegar, and sambal oelek in a small bowl; set aside.
Heat a 14-inch wok or heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot, then swirl in the oil. Add the scallions, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and stir-fry until softened, about 30 seconds.
Add the green beans, bell pepper, and peanuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Add the ham and stir-fry until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the broth, scrape up any browned bits, and bring to a boil.
Pour in the kecap manis mixture and stir-fry until bubbling and the ingredients are thoroughly coated in the sauce, about 2 minutes.