Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken Stir Fry

My friend HW from Toronto (but originally from China) was visiting over the Holidays. Since we live far from our relatives, it's always a treat when friends and family come all the way to Philadelphia to visit us. Because, no matter how cool Facebook is, it's really not the same to catch up with old friends around a cup of hot chocolate (or for that matter hot tea or just plain hot water!!)....
HW loves French food and we tried to cook French cuisine as much as we could.  One evening, I don't know what I was thinking (she is Chinese!) but I decided to cook a chicken stir fry. As usual with me, one ingredient triggers one full recipe. My husband had bought snow peas (petits-pois mange-tout in French because you eat it all (tout), pod included) at the market and they were sitting in the fridge... so I decided to do something about them before they went bad. And I thought about chicken stir fry, or rather, my recipe of chicken stir fry.
Obviously, my recipe has nothing to do with an authentic Chinese chicken stir fry (do they cook with olive oil in China??). But then again, what's "authentic" Chinese food? That's a very good question to ask, especially to French people.
In the late 1970s, a lot of Asian people emigrated to France to escape war and its aftermath. Back then, we were living in the part of Paris that is now called Chinatown. I remember, while going to elementary school, that, all of a sudden, new Asian children were joining our classroom. With this wave of immigration, the first Chinese supermarket opened in Paris (the one my mother and I visited to try new things!!) and with them, a lot of "Chinese" restaurants. I don't know why they called them "Chinese" restaurants because most of the first immigrants were from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. I know that some of them might have actually been of Chinese decent, but still they were a minority. As a consequence, a "Chinese Restaurant" in France is really an "Asian" restaurant with dishes coming from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Northern China, Southern China and even Thaildand. It seems that only Korean and Japanese cuisines managed to establish themselves as "authentic" (and yet again, a lot of Japanese kitchen are ran by Chinese these days). It took me a long time, a few years in San Francisco with my Asian friends, and a few trips abroad to be able to appreciate the differences in Asian cuisines...  One of the things I loved (and discovered in Hong-Kong) are dim-sums. Since HW was in Philadelphia, we went for dim-sums (HW, my two kids, and me). This was a memorable experience for all of us (for me, somehow, I remember a lot of things but did not really got a chance to enjoy the food as much as I would have loved to), but mostly for my daughter... She had never set foot in a dim-sum restaurant where carts (full of food) circle around the tables,  where you get a stamp each time you take one dish out of a cart, where everybody eat with chopsticks, etc... She was fascinated by this dance... but even more by the fact that HW was ordering everything in Chinese! Thanks to HW, we got a table right away (no wait!!) and food on our table faster than you can even imagine! I think that because everything was so new to her and HW was explaining her what it was, how it was made, etc... she tried more things than she would have if we had been just with my husband! She had some of the leftovers the next day and she is still talking about it...  So, yes, next time, instead of take-out Chinese, ask our friend/neighbor to babysit your kids, take your children in. You might be surprised!

So back to my Chicken Stir Fry... you now understand why my Chinese Stir Fry can be different.... And in way, it does not really matter as long as my children (and us) eat it... and that's the way you should try to cook: call it Chicken Stir Fry and make it your own so that your children eat it with pleasure. For instance, I know my children are not keen on fresh ginger so I have come to grate it instead of just mincing it so that it blends with the rest better. I did not want to serve it over pasta because we had a lot of snow peas but if it's the first time you are serving snow peas to your family, maybe you want to add pasta to enjoy a peaceful meal! Up to you! Good luck and Bon Appétit!

PS: HW did enjoy my Chicken Stir Fry!

- Chicken (I had thighs because HW loved them but any piece would do it)
- One onion, minced
- a small piece of fresh ginger, grated (optional)
- 2 small carrots,  peeled and thinly sliced
- Mushrooms, washed and sliced
- Snow peas (we had about one pound but you can add as many as you want)
- Olive Oil, salt and black pepper to taste
- Soy Sauce (optional)

  • In a sauce pan (with lid), saute the onion and fresh ginger in olive oil
  • Add the chicken, the carrots and saute more
  • Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally; put the lid on if you need more "water".
  • 10 minutes before serving, add the snow peas and let them cook.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve over plain rice, pasta or "as is"
  • Add soy sauce if you want.
My Personal Comments:
  • I don't have a wok so I cook it in a regular sauce pan.
  • I use the lid to make sure that some cooking water remains in the pan at the beginning.


  1. I have to admit the French take on the Chinese stir fry was so good I asked for seconds :)

    It's a great dish to get the kids involved in the preparation process - in my family, the kids fight for the honour to take off the stalk from the snow peas. Participation make the meal taste so much better!

    Any number of Chinese leafy greens can go into the stir fry. Bok-choy and gai-lan (often called Chinese kale) are usually available all year round in "Asian" grocery stores. Give it a try!

  2. Bring on the veggies. Great dish!

  3. Et voila je viens juste de manger des "dim sums" (heuuu ce n'est pas du mandarin)ce midi! c'est delicieux.

    Pas d'huile d'olive ici mais des bisons d'huile d'arachide ou vegetable oil pour faire les specialites de Shanghai -Memes mes collegues chinois qui ne sont pas de Shanghai trouve la nourriture de Shanghai trop grasse.

    plein de bises