23 January 2014

Roasted Sesame Stir Fry

There is nothing quite as disheartening as an atypical ingredient in a new recipe you're all jazzed to try.  Fenugreek?  Cardoon?  How about jaggery?  Definitely not your standard pantry dwellers.  Lemongrass is one that I struggle with in particular, always wanting that truly authentic flavor but never being able to find it at a local market (anyone in Ohio reading this, hook a foodie up).  Typically I steer clear of these oddballs, but here I embrace my favorite specialty oil - roasted sesame.  Trust me, this is an ingredient you need to try, especially in this deliciously healthy and easy little stir fry.

Every time the hubs and I venture to western New York for a family reunion, we stop by our favorite little specialty shop, D'Avolio, to pick up a few fun varieties of balsamics and oils.  Nothing satisfies a foodie soul like sitting at the table, tearing into a loaf of bread and slathering the pieces in exotic and exciting vinegars and oils.  The hubs is blindly devoted to his black truffle oil while I tend to waver between roasted garlic, harissa and of course this roasted sesame.  I DIIIIIIIIIIE for this stuff.  

Sesame oil is high in antioxidants, has an incredible shelf life and a very high smoke point making it ideal for deep frying.  Roasted sesame oil has a lower smoking point and is usually used more for flavoring in cooking.  And with very good reason.  It has a deliciously rich, nutty flavor that is almost smokey.  It is fantastic drizzled over grilled vegetables, chicken or an Asian-inspired omelet.  

Look at that color.  I want to lick that measuring spoon.  But this post isn't just about oil...it's about stir fry.  An amazingly delicious stir fry containing an equally amazing oil that you should buy immediately.  No pressure.

Stir fries are fantastic dinner options for weeknights when you're rushed or just don't feel like working that hard for a good meal.  The hubs came up with this rockstar chicken marinade that does double duty as a flavorful sauce.  After browning one side of the chicken, he adds the marinade to the pan and lets it simmer for 3-4 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Then you just add the pre-cooked vegetables back to the pan and let them jive together for a few before serving over brown rice.  Super simple, quick and healthy...perfect.

If you have any leftover veggies, I strongly support tossing them into an omelet the following morning.  Full of the flavors of rich roasted sesame and savory soy sauce, you will have a very happy day.

Roasted Sesame Stir Fry (2 servings)

  • 3 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 8 oz chicken breast or tenders
  • 3 c chopped broccoli, florets and stem
  • 3 c shredded cabbage
  • 1 tbs roasted sesame oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
  • brown rice, for serving
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion, sliced into rounds

In a Ziplock bag, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and 1 1/2 teaspoons of roasted sesame oil.  If using breasts, cut  the chicken in half and transfer to the bag.  Seal and set in the refrigerator to marinade while you chop your vegetables, up to 30 minutes.

Place a large wok or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot enough to sizzle a few drops of water, add 1 tablespoon of the roasted sesame oil and swirl the pan to coat.  Add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes, then add the cabbage.  Season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes, then stir to combine.  Cook until the vegetables are browned and tender, about 7-8 minutes.  Remove to a small bowl and set aside.

While the vegetables cook, remove the chicken from the marinade (but don't throw it away!) and cut into bite-size pieces.  Spray the empty wok or pan with non-stick and add the chicken.  Brown for a minute or two on one side, then flip with a pair of tongs and add the marinade.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the vegetables back to the pan and stir together well to coat, then cook for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are warm.  Serve over brown rice and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

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