Crunchy Broccoli Chicken Stir-Fry

When Cole and I first started dating over five years ago, we quickly adopted the date night ritual of cooking together. It was quite natural, really. We both liked food, cooking and, most importantly, we both liked eating. It was a no brainer to cook most of our meals together! It's a good thing that turned out, am I right? 

There are a lot of dishes that come to mind when I think about the early stages of our relationship. Pasta bakes were on the menu almost once a week as were frittatas and anything with pesto in it, but the one dish that gives me serious nostalgia is stir-fry. 

Because deep down we're both just a couple of nerds in love (who also enjoyed watching Archer back in the day), we didn't just make stir-fry frequently when we first starting dating, we made an event out of it which soon came to be known as Stir-Fry Day. It was a day we came to know and love and would look forward to celebrating for obvious reasons. Because, admit it, stir-fries are fun! They're also quick, easy, cheap and darn tasty. 

Sadly, as our lives got busier and the years went by with other new and exciting dishes incorporated into the menu plan, Stir-Fry Day became less and less routine. It wasn't until recently when I was looking for some meal plan inspo as a result of salad fatigue that I remembered the beauty of stir-fries. And just like that, I brought the stir-fry back, baby! 

The key to a good stir-fry is loading up on color, texture and flavor. Don't just stick with your favorite protein and vegetable.  This is your chance to load up on all the veggies and extras too, like nuts, green onions and toasted sesame seeds for crunch and punchy flavor. The stir-fry I made last to reintroduce myself to our Stir-Fry Day tradition hit all these marks and then some, featuring wok-fried chicken, broccoli, red bell peppers and mushrooms. Finished off with a bold marinade of soy sauce, chili paste, ginger, honey, whole cashews, sliced green onions and sesame seeds, I can confidently say that this stir-fry in particular brought Stir-Fry Day back with a vengeance. 

Crunchy Broccoli Chicken Stir-Fry

Makes about six hearty portions of stir-fry

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 broccoli crowns, cut into florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups baby Portobello mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup whole cashews
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste or freshly minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste, such as Sambal
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, though I highly recommend the wok, people! Yes, it's another kitchen appliance to add to your kitchen, but it really does in come in handy for not only stir-fries but even tossing together pastas. Just DO IT! Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled recipe…

Add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil to skillet and heat until glistening. Add chicken pieces to wok and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until chicken pieces are just cooked through. Remove chicken from wok and set-aside. Drain any of the juices that appeared when cooking chicken. 

Whisk together soy sauce, ginger paste or minced ginger, chili garlic paste, rice wine vinegar and honey in a liquid measuring cup. (Fun fact: did you know that Ina Garten prefers and highly recommends this method for whisking dressings and marinades? It's like we're the same person, or something!) In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and water until it forms a slurry. Add to marinade and whisk until combined. Set aside. 

Add remaining sesame oil to skillet. Cook broccoli for about 2 minutes until broccoli starts to char. Then add bell peppers and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until veggies are fragrant. Add chicken and cashews to wok and stir to combine. Pour over marinade, stirring to combine, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until sauce is slightly thick. 

Remove from heat. Top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with white or brown rice and enjoy! 

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