Woks For Dinner? Chicken Stir-Fry

    We had a bin full of fresh veggies and we always keep chicken tenders on hand (in the freezer) so Stir-Fry Chicken seemed to be the perfect answer to “What’s for dinner tonight?”
    As I was contemplating stir-fry, I immediately thought of this recipe. Years ago Barry and I were on a social committee with Mel Shurson and his wife Dottie. The meeting was early evening (before dinner) and as we were leaving, Mel asked us to come over for an impromptu dinner. Of course we said “yes”. He opened a bottle of wine, distributed knives, pulled out a wok and we all chopped and cooked, creating an extremely tasty and memorable dish.
     I was so impressed with his skills and knowledge that I asked him to come and demonstrate for one of my high school foods classes! He did . . . and based on his verbal instructions, I recorded it all on paper. Of course, the students got involved with the chopping and stir-frying and it was a smashing success. Mel continued to make yearly, sometime bi-yearly, visits to my classes and the students continued to enjoy his presentation as they learned new skills.
    So, whenever I stir up this dish, I’m stirring up lots of memories, too!

A couple of notes before you start stir-frying:
·      A wok is not essential but a pan with sloping sides makes it easy to move around the veggies as they cook. However, make sure the cooking container is large to accommodate all the ingredients.
·      Advance preparation is essential! The actual cooking goes fast BUT the prep work takes awhile . . . and once the wok is hot, there’s no time to stop and chop. I prefer to chop or slice all the veggies and even the meat in advance. Also the thickening sauce needs to be made before you heat the wok for frying.
·      And, in the spirit of Mel – have fun, be creative and enjoy the end product!
o   Substitute other meats or leave them out.
o   Add any veggies of your choice.

Stir-Fry Chicken  Serves 2 to 3
2 tablespoons oil (peanut oil is ideal because it has a high smoking point; 
but olive or canola also work)

Ingredients assembled & prepped.
1 to 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin chunks, preferably on the diagonal; marinate in soy sauce if time allow (if partially frozen, chicken breasts are easier to slice on a diagonal)
2 small cloves of garlic, peeled & minced

Vegetables of your choice – see step 2 below; prep veggies in advance so they are ready to add to hot wok. (Mel always told my students to have veggies cut into similar sized shapes so they’d cook evenly.)

Ingredients for thickening sauce: 2 Tbsp. cornstarch ½ tsp. granulated sugar, 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. chicken concentration or a bouillon cube (optional), 1 cup cold water – mix cornstarch with sugar and then add remaining ingredients and have ready for step 4.
1.     Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok over medium high heat until hot (almost smoking). Add meat and garlic. Stir fry, stirring almost constantly, until meat loses its color (this takes only minutes; about 4). Remove from pan and set aside.
2.     Add vegetables (of your choice) in order of needed cooking time; cook and stir (almost constantly) until just tender-crisp.                                       
a.     Add 1st : green or red peppers – cut into strips / carrots – cut into thin slices or julieened / onions – cut into thin slices / broccoli florets / cauliflower florets. Note – when cooked properly, peppers & onions will look “blistered”; other veggies will become bright in color.
b.     2nd addition – add about halfway through cooking: celery – cut thin on a diagonial.
c.     Add tender veggies the end: zucchini – cut into thin slices, mushrooms – sliced; sugar snap peas, bean sprouts.
3.     Add chicken back to vegetables once they are tender-crisp
4.     Add the thickening sauce (see ingredient list above) to the chicken and veggies; let mixture boil and thicken, stirring and watching closely. Lid may be placed on wok to steam the food; watch carefully and don’t overcook. Add more water if sauce becomes too thick.
5.     Serve over hot rice or Chinese noodles.


  1. Hmm,I think I wanna try this recipe.

  2. Interesting title to this recipe - checkout www.woksfordinner.com

  3. Weird title - there is a website with the same name www.woksfordinner.com

  4. So there is -- I just checked it out! Thanks for the link.