So, I love Chinese take-out. Like, it’s the sad highlight of my otherwise staid work week (I know, I need to get a hobby or something). When I was a kid, mom served pu pu platters instead of pizza at my birthday parties. Whenever she took my brother and I out to lunch, we always went to the same Chinese restaurant, sat in the same booth and ordered the same meals: PFK, chicken fingers and chicken wings (it was the 80s’ in rural Maine and for a nine year old and four year old, that was pretty exotic). Mom always ordered Chicken with Broccoli, a dish that would eventually become one of my favorites, too.
Earlier this year I went through a bit of nutritional mid-life crisis when I declared I would eat nothing but clean foods. [Insert image of me standing like Scarlet O’Hara in my kitchen, declaring “I will never eat processed foods again, so long as I live!” ] This was all well and good, except this meant no eating out. No take-out dinner to lift my spirits mid-week. No Chinese food. But I declared it in front of my four children, who have memories like elephants when it comes to me making sweeping nutritional declarations. Hey Mom, remember when you said we are going to go vegan on Fridays? Remember Mom, we are only going to bake with whole wheat flour… Mom, I thought we are going to grow all our own food from now on? …Seriously, these are the same kids who lose their retainers, forget how to use the washing machine or put the toilet seat down….
In a surprising show of self-control, when the urge for Chinese food hit I took to Pinterest and found several versions of Chinese Chicken and Broccoli. In an even more surprising twist, I liked my final version even better than any Chinese take-out! Gasp! I didn’t think such a thing was possible. Bonus, this dish is cheap, cheap to make. I admit, at first glance the ingredient list is a little fussy looking, but I promise, if you buy them, you’ll find plenty of other recipes that use them… like Honey Sesame Chicken and Asian Inspired Egg Scramble.
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (chicken breast will work too, but I think the thighs have more flavor) sliced into narrow strips
- 2 cups of blanched broccoli (blanched means half-cooked)
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (any old vinegar will do)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (a little goes a long way)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (add more if you like a little heat)
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp oil ( I use coconut, you can use whatever you have on hand)
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger (this is important- the dish tastes way better with fresh ginger, which will stay fresh in the fridge for a while, so it’s worth the investment)
- 4 green scallions, chopped
- Heat coconut oil your pan/skillet to low-medium heat
- Whisk soy sauce, OJ, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, pepper flakes and corn starch together – set aside
- Add chicken to the hot pan and cook for about a minute
- Add broccoli, garlic, ginger and scallions to pan and saute* for two-three minutes until vegetables cook down and are soft (not mushy)
- Add sauce to chicken and broccoli and simmer over low heat, stirring for 3-4 minutes*saute just means to cook food quickly in a little bit of fat over direct heat (it’s a fancy word for frying – which sounds nutritionally bad, but really isn’t)
Serve chicken and broccoli with long grain wild rice or with a leafy green salad for a lighter take on this Chinese food favorite.
Do you have a favorite copy-cat recipe?