Boneless, skinless chicken breast is the most-purchased cut of poultry in the U.S., but it’s easy to overcook and generally bland. Thankfully, the solution to both problems happens to be both simple and fast — a boldly flavored stir-fry.
For this recipe from our book “Cook What You Have,” which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals, we rely on hoisin. Thick, sweet and rich with umami, the fermented soy-based sauce hits several flavor notes at once. By mixing it with a bit of soy sauce and dry sherry or sake for acidity, we balance its richness so it’s not cloying.
To ensure the chicken remains tender, we slice it crosswise against the grain, which shortens the muscle fibers so the meat contracts less when exposed to the high heat of a stir-fry. And making the slices only ¼-inch thick means it needs only a few minutes to cook before the sauce is added to the pan.
Freshly grated ginger and crushed red pepper brighten the dish, and snappy bell pepper adds a welcome contrast to the tender chicken.
The cooking goes quickly, so be sure the ingredients are prepped and at the ready before you head to the stove. Serve with steamed rice.
Start to finish: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry OR sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 medium green OR red OR orange OR yellow bell peppers OR a combination, stemmed, seeded and sliced about ¼ inch thick
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick
In a small bowl, stir together the hoisin, sherry and soy sauce; set aside. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and opaque throughout, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the hoisin mixture and cook, stirring, until the sauce slightly thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, taste and season with additional soy sauce, if needed.
Optional garnish: Thinly sliced scallions
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap
Christopher Kimball, The Associated Press