Veggie-laden chicken stir fry

Dinner parties don’t have to be dull — at least not when you’re bringing this mouth-watering dish.

Warning: This dish is incredibly delicious, but its plethora of ingredients can also add up quickly, so it’s better if the costs are split with a friend.

Utensils required: wok (preferably electric, since that eliminates the need for an oven), tongs/two large spoons, mixing bowl, knife, cutting board, measuring cups

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 small container baby bella mushrooms

1 cup sugar snap peas

2 chicken breasts

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon of Asian/stir fry seasoning (find in the spice or ethnic foods aisles; can use sesame seed, salt and pepper instead)

1/2 cup peanut oil (vegetable oil will suffice, but peanut is preferred because it allows you to cook at a higher temperature)

1 resealable plastic bag

1 tablespoon butter (optional)

3 stalks celery (optional)

1 red onion (optional)

1/2 cup jasmine rice per person (optional)

Time commitment: about 40 minutes (including vegetable chopping and rice cooking)

Steps:

1. Combine the soy sauce and teriyaki sauce in a bowl, stirring until they’re thoroughly mixed. Then pour half into one cup, and half into another. They’ll come in handy later.

2. Cut the chicken breasts into small cubes or strips, whichever you prefer. Then place in the resealable plastic bag and pour one of the cups of teriyaki/soy sauce all over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully saturated in the sauce, then seal the bag. Leave it on the table for now.

3. Rinse all of the vegetables before chopping them into bite-sized pieces. Make sure you wash your knife or use a new one so you don’t transmit bacteria from the raw chicken onto the veggies. Even though the vegetables are going to be cooked, depending on how firm you like ’em, the veggies may not reach a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria from the chicken.

4. Pour just enough peanut oil onto the wok to lightly coat its surface, and then start heating up the wok. Throw on the tablespoon of butter, and once it’s melted, toss in your chicken. (The butter is optional because it’s not necessary here, but my dad says it’s a key component to properly browning the chicken and searing in its flavor, so I stick with it.)

5. When the chicken has become firm and turned an opaque color, move it onto a plate. Then add a little more oil if you need to re-coat the bottom of your wok before adding your vegetables. Cook the hardest vegetables first — such as celery — since they’ll require the longest cook time. When they start to soften (after about two or three minutes), toss in the squash, zucchini, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, mushrooms and onion, as well as the chicken.

Note: I added a sprinkling of bean sprouts to my stir fry (see gallery below), just to vary the textures. They’re not necessary, but if you choose to include them, add them about a minute before your stir fry is done, otherwise they’ll wilt away.

6. Pour in the other cup of sauce, along with your Asian seasoning. Stir everything together, and test the vegetables sporadically. Once they’ve reached your desired softness (I prefer ’em after they’ve cooked for about five minutes), turn off the wok.

7. Cook jasmine rice according to the directions on the back of the package. Serve a heaping scoop or two of stir fry atop a bed of the fluffy, fragrant rice for a flavor-packed meal.

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