Marinating chicken for stir-fries

After months of procrastination I decided I should probably add some recipes to this so-called ‘food blog’ that I have been neglecting. 😀 What kind of a food blog doesn’t have recipes in it?!

The vast majority of what I cook are family creations or heirloom recipes from my parents’ friends. I am all for maintaining the integrity of ingredients: so you won’t see many fancy game jus or lobster mousse or other flashy dishes with a never-ending list of ingredients. Besides, it must be the trend now, with all those “4 ingredients” cookbooks around. Not that I am being a sheep, but that’s just the way I have rolled for a long while. Simple is best.

Since my family is of Chinese heritage, the cuisine they cook and have taught me is mainly Chinese. Consequently, it will be the feature cuisine in my blog. Recipes that were acquired from family members will be categorised under “Family Recipes”.  I think Asian food is, in general, tastier than Western food. They know how to harmonise flavours and texture subtly to great effect, creating a huge array of dishes with unique characters, harnessing the myriad of seasoning and ingredients that the continent was lucky to have been endowed with. Delicate yet tasty, the food is not only pleasing to the mouth, but leaves a feeling of comfort and satisfaction after you have eaten: that is the hallmark of Asian cuisine.

However, I do enjoy the occasional cultural change, often taking inspiration from other food blogs, and when I foray into the culinary art of other cultures, I aim to be authentic in doing so. Having said that, I am not one to stick to a recipe rigidly, adding a personal touch with a few tweaks here and there won’t mean a kitchen disaster, in fact they are sometimes the springboard to new inventions. So you will see a lot of “(optional)”s scattered about in my recipes; just do as your instinct guides you to, anything that takes your fancy, add or omit anything you like. Follow recipes as a guideline, not by the book.

I wanted to post a recipe on 米肉粒飯 (Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn) but then I realised all my recipes just say “marinated” with the assumption everybody knows. I thought I should start from the very beginning so that it’s all clear. So here is a ‘tutorial’ on how to marinate chicken breast or thigh for Chinese stir-fries. This is just a standard marinade for generic Chinese stir-fries, specific recipes may call for different flavourings. If using whisky, it imparts a beautiful smoky-sweet fragrance on the chicken that the usual choice of rice wine lacks.

Typical standard marinade for stir-frying chicken

For about one fillet of chicken breast or thigh: salt (not needed if using soy sauce) and white pepper, 1 cap (teaspoon) of Johnnie Walker whisky or Chinese rice wine, 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil,

(optional) 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp baking soda, oyster sauce, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, ginger juice, garlic, spices, herbs, honey etc.

Method

Wash, dry, trim excess fat and cut chicken into desired size/shape.

Apparently baking soda tenderises the meat if you apply it for 15 minutes, but you have to rinse it off and then add the other ingredients afterwards.

Mix pieces of cut chicken with the above ingredients in a bowl, marinate from a day in the refrigerator to 10 minutes, covered (longer means greater flavour absorption).

Marinating Chicken Breast

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