hoisin chicken with red pepper and fried shallots


I know I know, the whole world is against the boneless skinless chicken breast – often referred lovingly as the BS chicken breast. In a way, I can understand why some (most?) people hate it. It’s unforgiving. Cook it a minute too long and it will be as dry and tough as the advice your aunt gave you during your rebellious teen years.

But here I am, yet again posting another BSCB recipe. Yes yes! I take full responsibility of this post, because I think the polarisation between thigh vs. breast is a futile one. Don’t get me wrong. I do love my chicken thighs (skin and all), but I have to say that sometimes I prefer that leanier cut of meat. Some recipes are better using thighs, while others are made more elegant when you use chicken breasts. And I truly believe that when made right, chicken breasts can be one of the most wonderful cut of meat. Succulent, juicy and flavourful – the way any meat should be, without all the cholesterol that comes with fattier pieces.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. Sometimes we are all so scared of food poisoning (and rightly so) that we tend to let our BS CB cook to death. Things don’t necessarily have to be that way. Thus is why I am giving you a stir fry recipe.

There are several factors to you need to consider to get that succulent tender pieces of chicken breast.

  • Cut your meat and vegetables in uniform even pieces. Don’t cut your chicken breast too thinly. Thin meat cooks faster and thus easier to overcook.
  • Marinate your chicken. You don’t have to marinate it for long hours/ overnight. Sometimes a 5-10 minute marinade is enough to make all the difference. It also ensures a flavourful and tender chicken pieces.
  • I like to add a bit of oil to the marinade (vegetable/sesame) to ensure that the lean chicken doesn’t get dry.
  • Get your wok screaming hot and oil shimmering before you put anything on it.
  • When you put your chicken on the hot wok, spread them out and do not be tempted to stir them around for a minute. Let them sear a bit first.
  • Don’t overcrowd your wok. Stir fry your meat and veg separately. Overcrowding can result in steaming. Which is not what we’re after.
  • Work fast over high heat and never stir fry for your meat and veg for more than 3 minutes.

I’ve included a recipe below but you can easily make your own marinade with corn starch, soy sauce, fish sauce, dry sherry, or anything you’d like and use any seasonal vegetables available to you. Once you get the hang of stir-frying, you can say goodbye to boring-bland-dry-tough chicken breasts.

Hoisin Chicken with Red Pepper and Fried Shallots

seves 2 – 4

  • 400 gr boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut up into bite sized pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 lemongrass, white part only, minced
  • 10 gr fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely sliced
  • 1 thai red chilli, sliced
  • 100 gr red bell pepper, sliced
  • 40 ml / 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • a small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • fried shallots

In a big bowl, mix chicken with half of the garlic, half of the five spice powder, lemongrass and ginger. Cover with a cling wrap and LET MARINATE for at least 10 minutes, 1 hour if you’ve got time in the fridge.

STIR FRY YOUR VEG: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok over high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, throw in the onion, chilli, red pepper and the rest of the garlic. Let cook, stirring all the while, for about a minute. Reserve on a plate.

STIR FRY YOUR CHICKEN: Heat another tablespoon oil in the wok over high heat and when oil starts to shimmer, add in the chicken. Spread them well and leave them alone for about 30 seconds. When the 30 secs are up, start stir frying the chicken for about a minute.

Still over high heat, add in the pre-cooked vegetables along with the hoisin sauce, lemon juice and zest, and the rest of the five spice powder. Let the chicken and veg absorb all the liquid, stirring all the while. When the liquid has gone, serve them on a plate and garnish with cilantro leaves and lots of fried shallots.


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