Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Stir-Fry (Inspired by PF Chang's)

Mom and I spent the last week at a film convention in Las Vegas. It was fun for the first day and a half, but then I started to feel like if I had to visit another buffet full of steak and pasta, someone was going to get hurt. I needed some vegetables BADLY. Fortunately, we found a PF Chang's at the hotel next door, where it turned out Mom and I could order sides of vegetables - and they even LOOKED like vegetables! None of that warmed-over, brownish-green, overcooked crap. So this is my not-so-faithful-but-still-damn-tasty merging of a couple of their vegetable dishes. ;)

You can use this recipe with pretty much any vegetable you have on hand. Broccoli would be really good, as would edamame. Bell peppers and onions would work, along with baby corn, water chestnuts, green beans, cabbage, chopped carrots . . . pretty much any vegetable you can think of. AND it’s a great way to use up raw leafy greens that haven’t quite gone bad, but that are a little old to use in a salad.

If you serve this with rice, you can stretch this to 6 good-sized servings, or 8 smaller ones. Without rice, figure 4 large servings or 6 smaller ones.

The Recipe:
2 tsp canola oil
1 tbs butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 inch fresh ginger, grated*
1 10-oz package sliced mushrooms (crimini)
1 lb pre-cooked chicken strips
12-16 oz fresh spinach
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Melt the butter and canola oil in a pan. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until garlic is golden. Add the mushrooms and cook over medium-low heat until mushrooms are soft, and release their juices.

(If you’re making the sauce below, now is the time: while the mushrooms soften.)

Add the chicken and red pepper flakes (if using) and heat through.

Add the spinach, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring as you go. As soon as the spinach cooks down, add more. The idea is for it to be wilted, but not soggy.

You can leave it this way, or if you like, you can add the sauce (below). If you’re serving this over rice, put the rice on the plate, then the chicken mixture, then pour some sauce over the whole thing. If you’re not serving rice, just pour all the sauce into the chicken pan and give it a good stir. :)

*Note: Ginger can be a real pain in the ass. The easy way to grate fresh ginger? Go to the store and buy a ginger root. Cut it into pieces roughly 1 to 1.5 inches each, then toss them all in a sandwich bag and put the bag in the freezer. When you need some fresh ginger, grab a grater with teeny little holes (I use this Microplane grater) and grate the frozen ginger, peel and all, right over the pan/pot. Works like a charm, and it's dead easy. None of that mucking around, trying to peel the freakin' ginger. FanTAStic.

Stir-fry Sauce:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
Chili paste (optional)
Chinese hot mustard (optional)

Combine soy sauce, water, sugar and vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, just enough to heat lightly. Mix ingredients together until sugar is melted.

Taste. Little by little, tasting as you go, add chili paste and hot mustard to taste. (Did I mention that you should taste as you go? ;D) If by chance you get too much spice in the sauce, just add a splash of white vinegar to calm it down.

Since I'm not a big rice person, I just poured the sauce into the pan, and then the whole mixture into a bowl. Like this:

YUM. That is all.


  1. youre not a big rice person?!
    I could live on rice alone.

    This looks GREATGREAT!

    (I put out a call today for more thursday guest posts if you wanna do another!)

  2. Really? No, for the most part I HATE rice. (Except risotto. THAT I could live on, LOL. Actually I might have to do a basic risotto recipe soon. It's dead easy, despite what people hear.) But otherwise, the only time I eat rice is in sushi rolls (not even in regular sushi; then I just eat the fish). I'm more a pasta person.

    Oh, except for wild rice, which I LOVE, but it isn't really a rice anyway: it's a grass, so I don't count that one. ;)


Leave a comment! (Come on. You know you want to. Everybody's doing it.)