Light, delicious and easy to prepare, chicken stir-fry variations are perfect for quick weeknight meals and impressive enough to serve to dinner guests. Prep the ingredients in advance and keep them chilled in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook. With chicken and spinach in the starring roles, include additional seasonal vegetables for variety. Change the sauce to take the stir fry in a different direction, and serve it on jasmine rice, in a wrap or on a bed of quinoa.
Rinse the chicken if desired and trim off fat, membranes and stray bone or gristle. Cut the chicken into long, 1/2-inch strips or 1-inch cubes. Drain the chicken pieces on paper towels. Wash your hands.
Rinse and drain the baby spinach. Spinning it in a salad spinner removes extra water efficiently. Skin and chop garlic cloves.
Prepare the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir about 2 cups of chicken broth with cornstarch or arrowroot to be cooked into a sauce later. Use a ratio of about 1 tablespoon thickener per 1 cup of broth.
Heat a wok or deep skillet to medium-high temperature. Add a small amount of oil to coat the bottom of the pan when stirred. Use oil with a high flash point, such as sesame oil, to prevent scorching. Cook the chicken pieces a handful at a time, stirring constantly until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Add chopped garlic to taste with the chicken, reserving some garlic to add to the remaining chicken. Remove the cooked chicken to a bowl and immediately cook the next batch until all the meat is cooked.
Working quickly to keep the wok hot without scorching, stir the bowl of sauce ingredients and pour the sauce into the wok, stirring constantly. Add ginger powder or fresh ginger, if available. When the sauce begins to thicken, add nuts and continue stirring. Return the chicken pieces to the wok, tossing them in the sauce until they are coated.
At the last moment, turn off the heat, add all the baby spinach at once, and toss the ingredients to wilt the spinach. Serve immediately.
- Include seasonal fresh vegetables, stir frying them after the chicken and before the sauce. Onions, sweet peppers, summer squash, snow peas, carrots, halved Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower cook quickly.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds over the dish just prior to serving.
- Add honey and vinegar to make the sauce sweet and sour, with a squeeze of lemon juice or orange juice for a light citrus punch.
- Clean the sink and surrounding counter after rinsing chicken to reduce the risk of salmonella.
- Thoroughly wash your hands after handling raw chicken to prevent cross-contamination of other food.
Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.