Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A miracle - it only took me half an hour!: Chicken szechuan stirfry from scratch

We have a slight problem with our freezer at the moment - well, not the actual freezer, but with its contents. I seem to have managed to freeze a load of meat - which is great, but it's all stuff you have to cook slowly - oxtail, lamb shoulder, beef shin, chicken legs.

This would be wonderful if I was a lady who lunched, but unfortunately I have to go to work, and if George wants his dinner before midnight I have to think of stuff that cooks a little more rapidly.

So, a couple of days back I admitted defeat and bought chicken breast, a packet of mixed veg and some beansprouts from the supermarket on the way home. I also dithered around the stirfry sauces for five minutes before deciding that really was chickening out - sorry, sorry, couldn't help that one - and purchased some szechuan peppercorns instead.

Anyway, I'm dead chuffed I did - it worked a treat. I have always been scared that making a stirfry sauce myself would result in dry chicken and a heap of noodles tasting of soy, but it didn't... and as an extra bonus we were eating by 8pm and George was a happy giraffe.

George is still struggling with chopsticks, so used his hooves for the noodles.
Who needs children when you've got a messy giraffe?

Chicken szechuan stirfry from scratch

Ingredients (serves 2): 2 chicken breasts, a bag of pre-cut veg (or do it yourself!), 2 big handfuls of beansprouts, 2 beef tomatoes, szechuan peppercorns, lemongrass, 1 shallot, chili, garlic, ginger, soy sauce (gluten-free version if you need it), groundnut or vegetable oil for frying. Noodles to serve.

1. Heat a wok - and I mean heat it, it needs to be hot hot hot. If it's a proper wok the meat won't stick, especially if you oil it nicely. (This has always been my first mistake with stirfrys - if you also grew up with ancient definitely-not-non-stick frying pans you'll know why.)

2. Whilst that's going on, crush a handful of szechuan peppercorns (in a pestle & mortar or mini blender) and add some lemongrass (I use the Lazy stuff - it keeps for much longer), a shallot, a chili, a clove of garlic, and an inch of ginger. Crush or blend together.

3. Chop two chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

4. When the wok is really hot, give it a decent glug of groundnut or vegetable oil. The oil should smoke. Add the paste and fry for a minute before adding the chicken.

5. When the chicken has browned (should be around 2 minutes), add a bag of chopped veg (or if you're being good, veg you've just chopped yourself) and 2 big handfuls of beansprouts. Add two big beef tomatoes, chopped fairly small. Splash on some dark soy sauce and carry on frying for another 3-4 minutes. Don't be tempted to fry the chicken for hours, because it really does cook quickly and you don't need to cremate it to ensure it's cooked - it'll just go dry and chewy.

7. Serve with noodles - I used some dry green tea noodles I had in the cupboard, and splashed them with light soy sauce to ensure they didn't stick together.

8. Enjoy an evening sat on the sofa without George pointing rather obviously at his growling stomach.... Ah. That's just me then.


  1. We had a nice chicken mixture last night as well - with ginger and lime and a lot of white wine (we are learning from our children that half a pint of white wine in a sauce is completely normal).

    1. Sounds very zingy! Glad you're enjoying rediscovering non-vegetarianism...