The one food my kids request most often is “Chinese chicken.” The great thing about this is that it still leaves the door open to a little experimentation on my part. They’re not referred to a particular recipe, they just want pretty much any variation of chicken dish they may have had at a Chinese Buffet.
Now, Mr W and I absolutely LOVE most variations of Chinese chicken, but a lot of them are breaded, deep fried and then covered in sticky sweet sauces. So…I’ve got to change it up now and again and see if I can’t find a non-breaded version of acceptable Chinese chicken. If it’s fast and easy, that’s an even bigger bonus.
A few weeks back, I ran across a recipe for Honey Soy Stir Fried chicken over at Week of Menus. Wow, did it look tasty.
So I headed to the store to pick up chicken thighs (woot! Chicken thighs are dirt cheap!) and Oyster Sauce. Pretty much everything else in her recipe was either something I keep on hand or something I knew I could easily substitute.
Unfortunately, the Oyster sauce decided to play hide and seek with me when it came time to make dinner.
I went to the pantry. It wasn’t there.
I went to the spice cabinet. It wasn’t there either.
(This is the point where I started wondering what was going on.)
I checked the fridge. Nope.
I went back to the pantry and started moving things around. It was nowhere.
So I headed to the basement back up pantry, thinking maybe I’d stashed it there in a sleep deprived moment of insanity. Yeah, no go.
It also wasn’t in the downstairs fridge, the downstairs cupboards, or even in any of the dish cupboards. I know because by this point in time I was on a determined search for oyster sauce and had enlisted Mr. W to help me search every nook and cranny of two kitchens.
That stuff had literally gotten up and walked out of the house.
Now I know what you’re thinking…I left it in the cart at the grocery store. We’ve all done that a few times. It gets left in the corner of your cart, you’re in a hurry, you forget it. The problem was, I’d only bought TWO things on that trip and I remembered the amount of my purchase and dog-gone-it, it included that Oyster sauce!
(And no, it wasn’t in the trunk of my car either.)
So feeling perplexed, but having wasted twenty minutes of my night looking for something I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like anyway (I hate briney flavors) I decided to improvise. Since I changed or replaced about 20% of the recipe, I’m going to give you my version instead of trying to explain all the changes I made to the original linked above.
Stir Fried Honey Soy Chicken
- 3lbs skin on, bone in chicken thighs, skinned and cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup diced fresh ginger
- 3 T canola oil
- 1 T Tamari (super strong soy sauce)
- 1 T corn starch
- 3T water
Mix the honey, soy sauce, bourbon, ginger and 1 T of canola oil up as a marinade, then pour over the chicken pieces and let it marinate. (You could do this step in the morning for a TON of inflused flavor, or do like me and leave it sit while you get you rice cooker going, chop up some heads of broccoli and set them to steam and corral a few children to help set the table…in other words: 20 minutes.)
Mix the Tamari, corn starch and water in a small bowl.
[Sidebar: Oyster sauce is basically a salty thickener used to make asian sauce dishes thicker and more flavorful. I don’t like the flavor of oyster sauce, but I do like salty and I do like thickened sauces. So I mixed up the Tamari and corn starch with a bit of water expecting it to have basically the same impact. Thankfully I was right and it worked beautifully.)
Heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick pan over high heat. When the oil shimmers a bit, add your chicken and marinade, stirring frequently. After about two minutes, add your Tamari mixture. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. At this point, the sauce will start to thicken and caramelize and will smell absolutely wonderful. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, and pop one of those chickens in your mouth to test for doneness.
I garnished with some fresh chives and served with steamed broccoli and brown rice. You’d have thought I was the queen of the cooking world. Everyone (myself included) went nuts over this dish. The best I can equate it to is a more saucy and slightly more savory version of the Bourbon chicken that is so popular in mall food courts.
In fact, three young kids and two adults pretty much polished off this entire recipe. Apparently it needs to be doubled if we want to have leftovers. This one earns a place in permanent rotation for sure!