Similar to Thai cuisine, this Burmese chicken stir-fry features an enticing mix of sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavors. Finely chopping the chicken by hand, rather than using ground chicken, delivers a dish with better texture.
Stir It Up
Follow these tips to get the most out of your stir-fry cooking.
For the best stir-frying, use a 14-inch carbon steel wok with a flat bottom and long wooden handle. With regular use, the wok will develop more of a non-stick surface. A 12-inch stainless steel skillet with high sides is a good alternative, but avoid non-stick pans since many can’t handle the heat. Preferably, use a thin, flexible metal spatula that can easily slip under foods in the pan.
Stir-frying is a fast-and-furious process, so practice mise en place, which is French parlance for having all your ingredients, including sauces, prepped and ready to go.
Use an oil in your pan with a high-smoke point, such as peanut, canola, rice bran, avocado or grapeseed oil. Before adding the oil, heat your wok to the point where water droplets vaporize on impact with the pan.
Follow the Leader
When stir-frying, start by cooking your meats, followed by denser vegetables like carrots, zucchini or asparagus and then delicate items such as leafy greens. Use only quick-cooking proteins, such as chicken breast, steak, shrimp, salmon, pork tenderloin or tofu. For even cooking, slice proteins and vegetables to a uniform size.
Over-filling your pan can bring down the heat, causing your ingredients to steam instead of stir-fry. This can lead to soggy (not crispy) veggies and meats that don’t obtain delicious browning. You always want to hear a sizzle, so don’t be afraid to cook in batches, if necessary. Spread meats in a single layer in your pan and let them sear undisturbed about a minute before stirring. This promotes caramelization (yum!) and reduces sticking.
Contributing chef Matthew Kadey, RD, is a registered dietitian and food writer. He is author of The Muffin Tin Chef (Ulysses Press), The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook (Ulysses Press) and Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure (VeloPress).Yields 4 servings
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce, gluten-free tamari or liquid coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce, optional
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 bird's eye chili peppers, sliced, or 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil or canola oil, divided
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/3 cup chopped mint leaves
- 8 large lettuce leaves
1To mince the chicken, slice the chicken breast into thin strips. Then chop the meat finely until it’s evenly minced.
2In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, fish sauce (if using), lime juice, sugar and chili peppers.
3Heat a wok or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the pan. Place minced chicken in the pan and heat until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. (If liquid begins to accumulate in the bottom of the pan, carefully drain and continue cooking.) Remove chicken and any juices from pan and
5Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Place shallots in pan and heat until a shade darker than golden, about 6 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and ginger; heat 1 minute. Add tomatoes and heat 1 minute. Place chicken and soy sauce mixture in pan, stir to combine and heat through. Stir in cilantro and mint and remove
7Line serving plates with lettuce leaves and place a scoop of chicken mixture on top.