The last time we were at S&R, we bought a large pack of celery stalks. We’re loving Bloody Mary these days and we wanted those celery stalk stirrers for the complete experience. We ran out of Bloody Mary ingredients before we could use up the celery stalks. To save the leftovers, I cooked chicken celery stir fry with cashew nuts.
We had it for dinner tonight. Because I intended to serve it donburi-style, I cooked it with lots of thick sauce to douse with rice with. Adding toasted cashew nuts gave the dish added crunch.
Is this chicken celery stir fry anything like stir fried beef and celery? Closely related, yes, but there are differences in the seasonings I used. No black vinegar in this one; instead, I poured in a healthy dose of sweet rice wine to liven up the chicken and to provide a nice contrast with the soy sauce with which it was seasoned.
If it’s related to stir fried beef and celery, then, it must be Chinese, right? I’m not all that sure if chicken celery stir fry is Chinese, Chinese-American or Chinese-inspired but I did use Chinese-style stir frying techniques to cook it. And what techniques would those be? I have written a post about stir frying basics but I do have a few additional tips.
First, since the chicken was seasoned with soy sauce, stir frying the meat and the veggies together will likely make the veggies absorb the dark color of the soy sauce. What I did was to stir fry the celery and onion slices together, scooped them out of the wok, stir fried the chicken, added the sauce then stirred in the celery and onion toward the end of cooking time.
Second, when using starch to thicken sauce, you need to give it enough time to cook. Otherwise, although the sauce may look thick and clear, it may still leave a powdery sensation in the mouth. And that’s not a good thing. To prevent that from happening, I poured in the sauce when the chicken was only half done. Seven minutes later, the chicken was cooked through and so was the sauce.
Third, when adding nuts to a stir fry, dry toast them first and add them to the dish after it is fully cooked. Dry toasting gives nuts a deeper flavor and more crunch. See how to toast nuts for all the details.
That said, I think we’re ready to dive into the recipe now.
- 4 to 5 chicken thigh fillets skin on or off, your choice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sweet rice wine
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 generous pinch black pepper
Pat the chicken thigh fillets dry with paper towels. Cut each into strips about 1/3 inch wide. Place in a bowl, pour in the soy sauce and sweet rice wine, add the garlic and pepper, and mix well. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce.
Trim the ends of the celery and cut the stalks diagonally into slices about 1/4 inch thick.
Peel, halve then thinly slice the onion.
Heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir fry the celery and onion with some salt for about a minute. Scoop out and transfer to a plate.
Pour in the remaining cooking oil into the pan and heat. Dump the chicken in the hot oil and stir fry for about three minutes.
Stir the sauce mixture to make sure that the starch has not settled at the bottom of the bowl. Pour into the pan with the chicken. Stir until thick and clear. Lower the heat to medium and let the chicken cook in the sauce for another six to seven minutes.
Add the celery and onion to the chicken and sauce. Stir and cook just until heated through.
Turn off the heat. Taste the sauce. Stir in more salt, pepper or sugar, as needed.
Toss in the toasted cashew nuts.
Serve the chicken celery stir fry with cashew nuts over rice. Or serve the rice on the side.