It seems that the vicinity of my apartment complex has become the place to be if your a female cat in heat these days.
It started out a few days ago with just one yowling cat. Annoying, yes, but manageable. Then came another yowling cat. They just sit together outside of my complex and yowl together. Day and night. Now I think there’s actually three of them. I think that maybe this is some kind of female-kitty-in-heat bonding or something.
cat 1: Um, like, are you in heat?
cat 2: Yeah.
cat 1: OMG, me TOO!
cat 3: No WAY! Me TOO!
cat 2: OMG, for realz?! We like, TOTALLY need to yowl together until we can gets us some man kitty!
cat 1: Like, totally!
cat 3: Fur sure!
What? So I imagine that the kitties outside of my apartment yowling incessantly talk with a valley girl accent. So what?
Moving on, while I was in the U.S., I ended up cooking quite a bit for my parents and husband. My mom doesn’t cook so much anymore since my brothers and I all left home (sorry Dad), and I enjoy cooking, so I was happy to cook for them. I even remembered to take pictures of most of the things I cooked, so I could blog about them later.
After we got back to Japan, however, it seems I somehow deleted all the pictures in a jet-lag induced haze… A 13+ hour flight will do that to ya. Trust me.
Fortunately, I have an older picture of one of the dishes I cooked while in the States: Sweet & Sour Chicken and Veggie Stir-fry
I love stir-fries, and how you can include just about anything you want in them. I love having a lot of different vegetables and nuts in mine.
I’ve learned a few things about stir-fries though, mainly from messing them up a lot.
1) Always stir-fry things at a high temperature. You don’t want anything spontaneously combusting, but you do need a high heat to cook your veggies/meat quickly.
2) Because you cook stir-fries at a high temperature, you need to use an oil with a high smoke point. If you don’t, your oil will start to smoke from the high temperature, break down, and generally taste icky. So what are some oils with high smoke points good for stir-frying?
- canola oil
- coconut oil
- peanut oil – I heard this is what Chinese cooks usually use, so I guess it’s bona fide. :D
- grape seed oil
What oils shouldn’t you use for stir-frying:
olive oil – low heat point, especially true for extra-virgin olive oil
sesame oil – good for flavoring after your done cooking, but not good for stir-frying
3) Either cook each vegetable/meat separately, or cook vegetables with a similar cooking time together. This prevents overcooking some vegetables, while others are still hard.
4) Don’t cook too large an amount of veggies/meat in your wok or pan at one time. If you have too many veggies in your pan, they’ll end up steaming rather than stir-frying, and they’ll lose their crunchiness. If you follow the previous tip though, you shouldn’t have a problem with this.
5) Once you start cooking, things go pretty quickly, so I find it’s easier to have everything cut up and ready to go before I start stir-frying.
6) Add nuts! Actually this is just my personal preference, but I think nuts always make stir-fries better, so add nuts! (unless of course you have a nut allergy, in which case you shouldn’t add nuts… please don’t sue me…)
Okay, that’s all the tips I can think of off the top of my head. If you have any more, please let me know! I’m by no means an expert on stir-fries, so I’m always happy to learn new tips if ya have ‘em!
Okay, on to the recipe!
I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but I’ve altered it a bit over time to suit my tastes and preferences, so I suppose this is my version.
Sweet & Sour Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry
- 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 egg white
- dash of salt
- 2 tsp. corn starch
- 1 10-ounce can of pineapple in juice
- 1/4 c. juice from pineapple
- 1/4 c. white vinegar (or rice vinegar)
- 1/4 c. ketchup
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. corn starch
- 1/2 c. of peanuts, cashews, or almonds (optional)
- Veggies of your choice (Veggies I’ve used that work great: broccoli, onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, fresh green beans, sugar snap peas, carrots, fresh ginger, etc. Basically anything goes.)
- Oil for stir-frying
- Combine egg white, dash of salt, and 2 tsp. corn starch in a wide, shallow bowl. Add chicken and mix until well coated. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
- To make sweet & sour sauce, combine pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, and corn starch in a bowl and set aside (I usually cook a large amount of vegetables, so I often double the sauce).
- Cut up vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and cut pineapple into chunks.
- Heat a wok or skillet with a thick bottom until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on it. Add 1 Tbsp. oil, then add chicken and spread it out so that the pieces are separated. Cook 1 – 2 minutes without stirring, then flip the chicken over and cook on opposite side 1 – 2 minutes. Stir chicken around and continue cooking until chicken is completely cooked through. Remove from skillet.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet and briefly fry nuts (or you can toast them). Remove from skillet.
- Begin stir-frying vegetables in batches, cooking vegetables with similar cooking times together, or stir-fry each vegetable separately. Stir-fry until still slightly crunchy. Add more oil when necessary.
- In a large pot, mix the chicken, veggies, nuts, pineapple chunks, and sweet and sour sauce, and toss until everything is well coated in sauce. Briefly heat mixture on medium/low heat until warmed through. Serve with steamed brown or white rice.