I haven’t been up for a lot of opposition lately. No appetite to force the kids to broaden their palates, expand their horizon, try new foods. The chorus of no’s is just too much. But I tire of the same old tried and true dishes, the creamy bolognese sauce, the oven roasted sweet asian chicken thighs. I crave novelty, when all they want is familiarity. Last night’s Hoisin Rainbow Chicken Stir Fry made us all very happy.
Asian flavors are our bridge, the type of cuisine that pleases us all. With so many people at the table, making everyone happy is a small miracle, a bridge worth honoring.
When Jack was the pickiest toddler on the planet, the only way I could get him to eat anything was to slather it with maple syrup and soy sauce. Spaghetti, french fries, cold cuts… as long as he had his sweet and salty cocktail to dip, he would eat. Otherwise, the kid would starve. He is less picky today, but he still has a deep love of Asian flavors. Dinner time can still easily bring that deeply disappointed expression on his face.
The rest of the Druckman pack of kids is right there with him. They love the Asian sauces I whip up, but I play around to make them different enough that I get excited. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about hoisin. I read about a spicy hoisin glaze in the Chicago Tribune. I read about Dara from Cooking Canuck’s hoisin slow cooker chicken. I’d eaten Hoisin based sauces, but had never played with it at home. It was time to add this lush condiment to my pantry, to give my dishes an exotic barbecue flavor.
Hoisin sauce is considered a Chinese barbecue sauce, because it is used as a glaze for a grilled foods, most famously Peking duck. It is thick and a deep, dark red, great for dipping or coating roasted meats with a glistening crust. Hoisin sauce is made with soybean paste, garlic, chilies, vinegar, and sugar. A starchy ingredient, such as sweet potato, wheat, or rice, is also used to create the glossy, thick consistency of the sauce.
The resulting stir fry sauce is a true melting pot American concoction: Chinese Hoisin paired with Japanese soy sauce and Mirin. To bring in a Western ingredient, I threw in some Vermont maple syrup to round out the flavors. The dish is not authentic anything, but it’s delicious. And the fact that it came together in less than 15 minutes was a huge plus, just in time to get Jack out the door to hockey practice.
- 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into ½ inch wide slivers
- ¾ cups of red and yellow peppers, diced
- 1½ cups of sugar snap peas, rinsed
- ¼ cups of soy sauce
- ¼ cups of mirin
- 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 6 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
- In a mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, mirin, maple syrup and hoisin sauce. Set aside.
- Heat a large chef's pan or wok on high. Add the vegetable oil.
- Add the minced garlic and the chicken, stir fry every minute or so, scraping up all the browned bits, until the chicken is caramelized and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pan.
- Add the vegetables to the pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until just starting to soften.
- Add the chicken back in the pan.
- Pour half the sauce over the chicken and vegetable mixture. Stir fry for another minute, tossing vigorously to coat.
- Serve hot either on its own, or with rice.