This quick hoisin-flavored stir fry is perfect for busy weeknights. It’s loaded with nutritious vegetables, and kids love it.
My first experience with hoisin sauce — and Chinese food — remains vivid in my mind. I was about 5 years old, when my favorite uncle began dating a beautiful Chinese woman. For me, everything about my future aunt was exotic and alluring. She was an artist, but she was also very elegant, and an excellent cook.
I fell in love with my Aunt’s culture, and her food, at first bite. Over the years, I spent many hours next to her at the stove, as she shared her culture, cuisine, and family history with me. If not her recipes, my Aunt’s cooking techniques and the flavors of her beloved homeland, have worked their way into my family’s routine.
I don’t ever remember eating hoisin chicken with my Aunt. However, I like to prepare it on busy weeknights when I’m short of time and want to get a healthy, flavorful meal on the table quickly. With a family of six, it is sometimes challenging to cater for everyone’s tastes. However, this dish seems to have a universal appeal, and is always a hit.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the vegetables I suggest in the recipe. Chinese cooks are finicky about using the freshest, seasonal ingredients. Thus, they would do exactly what I would — substitute whatever is fresh and seasonal. Many other vegetables would taste excellent in this dish. A few examples are:
- snow peas (mangetout)
- baby corn
If you do use other vegetables, bear in mind that different vegetables have different cooking times. So, quick cooking vegetables, such as mushrooms and spinach, would need to be added later.
If you live in Johannesburg, as we do, all of the Chinese ingredients in this recipe are readily available at supermarkets. If not, they are standard items available at even the tiniest Asian grocery.
Hoisin sauce is delicious. Even if you’ve never cooked with it, you’ve probably enjoyed hoisin’s flavor in some of your favorite Chinese foods, like mu shu pork or Peking duck.
This tasty sauce is normally made of soybeans, red chilies, and garlic. Nevertheless, hoisin is not at all spicy. It has a salty, sweet taste that goes well with just about everything. Here, I’ve used hoisin to compliment and enhance the flavors of the chicken and veggies.
Don’t let the term intimidate you. Stir frying is a super-easy, quick, healthy way to cook. Stir frying uses less oil, and keeps vegetables crisp-tender. Cooked this way, vegetables retain more of their original nutritional value. For more information on this cooking technique, see my technique page: How to Stir Fry in 6 Easy Steps.
Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry with Baby Bok Choy
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This delicious and nutritious chicken dish comes together in a snap. Perfect for busy weeknights.
For the chicken
170 g (6 oz) chicken breasts (about 2)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine (or dry sherry)
300 g (10.5 oz) baby bok choy, quartered and cut into 1 inch pieces
200 g (7 oz) capsicums, red and yellow, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/4 small chinese (napa) cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 5 cm (2 inch) piece ginger, minced
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
For the sauce
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 teaspoons red chili flakes
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 teaspoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
Slice the chicken breasts, against the grain, into thin even strips.
Toss the chicken strips with the hoisin, soy, and rice wine. Cover and set aside.
Wash and cut the vegetables according to instructions. The baby bok choy, capsicum, and Chinese cabbage can be placed in one bowl. Place the green onions in another bowl, and the garlic and ginger in a third.
Place the sauce ingredients in a large measuring cup. Stir to combine, ensuring that you stir out any lumps created by the cornstarch.
Place the wok on the stove (or a wok burner) over high heat. Once the oil is fragrant and shimmering, add the meat to the wok. Tossing constantly until cooked through and until any water released by the meat has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Push the meat up the sides of the wok, and add the garlic and ginger to the well in the center. Toss garlic and ginger until fragrant and lightly toasted 1-2 minutes.
Add the bok choy, cabbage, and capsicum to the center, with the garlic and ginger. Continue tossing for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables are about 2 minutes shy of being fully cooked.
Push the vegetables up the side of the wok, along with the meat. Pour the sauce into the center.
Leave to cook until the sauce is boiling and slightly thickened. Then, turn off the heat. Quickly toss the vegetables and meat through the sauce. Add the green onions, and toss again to thoroughly combine.
Remove from the stove and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Working with Baby Bok Choy: Please note that baby bok choy tends to trap grit and grime towards the base of the leaves. Thus, careful cleaning is essential, separating the leaves and ensuring that all the dirt is rinsed out.
For the Vegetables: This recipe works well with any number of vegetables. The assortment is limited only by your imagination. Use whatever you like that is seasonal. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots, and just about anything else would work well. Don't limit yourself.
Oil: Chinese recipes typically call for peanut oil, which is more authentic. If you do not have peanut oil on hand, you may use coconut oil or canola oil in its place.