Thursday, April 25, 2019

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli

Stir-frying food the Chinese way is very, very fast if you cut up all the ingredients ahead of time. And these days, it's so easy to buy things ready to cook, like Broccoli Florets. I happened to have a big bag that I bought, so I've been making Broccoli several different ways. My favorite was a family classic - Chicken and Broccoli, which I realized that I have never posted, even though I make it often. If you cut up the Chicken and marinate it ahead of time and have Broccoli florets on hand, this dish literally takes only minutes! 

The sauce is a classic Chinese Brown Sauce made from Chicken Broth, Oyster Sauce, Tamari and a few drops of Sesame Oil. I use Kikkoman Oyster Sauce because it is Gluten Free and if you don't like Shellfish, there are some Vegan versions out there too.  The Cornstarch that is mixed in with the Chicken makes the sauce thick enough for my family, but if you like a thicker sauce add a little bit more Cornstarch. If it gets too thick, add a little bit more water. It's very forgiving. You can also make this dish with sliced Beef too and it's also delicious!

Stir Fried Chicken and Broccoli

¾ pound of boneless Chicken – Thighs or Breasts
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine
2 Tablespoons Tamari
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 – 3 cups Broccoli Florets, cut in half if large
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 large Garlic Cloves


¼ cup Chicken Broth
¼ cup Water
2 Tablespoons GF Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon Tamari
a few drops of Toasted Sesame Oil
Optional: 1 teaspoon of Cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons Water

In a bowl, mix together the Chicken Broth, Water, Oyster Sauce and Tamari. In another small bowl, mix together the Cornstarch and Water.  

Cut the Chicken into chunks less than 1”.  Place in a bowl with the Rice Wine, Tamari and Cornstarch.  Mix thoroughly.

Boil a small pot of Water and bland the Broccoli for 1 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Heat the Oil in a large frying pan or wok.  Add the Garlic and cook until you just smell the fragrance.  Then add in the Chicken, pushing down so that it forms a single layer and starts to brown on one side. Turn over and cook on the other side. Then add the Broccoli and the sauce mixture. Stir to combine. Then add in the Cornstarch mixture and cook until lightly thickened.  Serve with Steamed Rice.  

Five Element Analysis

Chicken and Broccoli both belong to the Wood Element, so this is a mostly Wood dish. However, the Oyster Sauce, Tamari and Sesame Oil bring in the Water Element and the Rice and Garlic contribute the Metal Element. The Fire Element is only found in the Rice Wine and the Earth Element in the Cornstarch, so be sure to add another dish or two that bring in those Elements for balance.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup

I visited Colombia years ago and had such a wonderful time and I loved the food!  My favorite thing was Ajiaco - a rustic Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup. I had it many times and it was always delicious!  I did ask my hosts how to make it and I got a recipe but I was stymied by my inability to get Guascas - the herb that flavors the soup or Criollas Potatoes, which makes the broth thick and creamy. So, I put off making it all this time. Recently, I was cleaning out a stored box and I found the recipe. Of course like many recipes from home cooks, it doesnt give precise measurements. 

So, my first task was to find Guascas and I found it at a local Latin Market. If you can't find Guascas, use an extra Bay Leaf. Then I needed to find a substitute for Criollos Potatoes as I wasn't interested in canned ones, but I had a brainstorm that I could create a creamy broth with a Russet Potato and then cut up other Potatoes like Yukon Gold and Red Bliss for the Potato Chunks. I also wanted to make the soup a little easier to eat. So, I used Corn Kernels instead of slices of Corn on the Cob. And, I wanted to make it faster so I used Chicken Broth and bite sized pieces of Chicken Breast cooked only for the last 15 minutes.  I served it the traditional way with Capers, cut up pieces of Avocado and Sour Cream for those who wanted it. I remember that it was served with a kind of Salsa that contained Aji Chilis that I didn't make, but it might be really good to add in a little hot sauce too. it was so delicious and it immediately transported me back to Bogota. I love this soup!

Colombian Chicken, Potato and Corn Soup

5 cups Chicken Broth
1 medium Onion, minced
3 Garlic Cloves
1 medium Russet Potato
2 Tablespoons Gauscas
1 Bay Leaf
1 - 2 teaspoons Salt
3/4 pound of Chicken Breast or Tenders cut into bite sized pieces
1 pound of mixed Baby Potatoes - Red Bliss, Yukon Gold and Purple peeled and cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups frozen Corn Kernels

For Serving: Capers, Avocado pieces and Sour Cream

Place Chicken Broth in a pot and add the Onions, Garlic, Russet Potatoes, Bay Leaf and Guascas. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and oook for 20 minutes. Remove the Bay Leaf and use a Potato Masher to mash the Potato. Taste and add Salt if desired. Then add in the Chicken, the remaining Potatoes and the Corn and bring back to a boil. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Serve with Capers, cut up Avocado and Sour Cream, if desired.

Five Element Analysis

As a soup, this automatically belongs somewhat to the Water Element, but the Potatoes and Corn make this a very Earthy Soup. The Chicken Broth and Chicken bring in the Wood Element and the Capers and add even more. The Gauscas, Bay Leaf and Sour Cream contribute the Wood Element and the Avocado (Haas) contributes the Water Element .Only the Fire Element is missing, so sprinkle on some hot sauce or serve this with a green, leafy Salad to create a balanced meal.