Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry

 This is the perfect recipe to practice the ultimate Zen meditation of living in the moment.  When you carry the water, carry the water and when you chop the vegetables, chop the vegetables.  I find the process of preparing this meal to be very meditative and relaxing…. almost as much so as kneading bread.  Though I have been known, when in a hurry, to use a pre chopped vegetable mixes…which may not have been as meditative, but tasted just as good!  I make this often in hot weather because it cooks so fast it barely heats the house up, especially when using an electric wok; but it does just as well in a regular non-stick pan! 

 4 tbs. soy sauce (regular or low sodium)

2 tbs. lemon juice

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small cubes and trimmed of fat

2 tbs. oil (canola, olive, or seasoned stir fry oil)

1 small onion, diced or one bunch of green onions, diced

1 bunch of broccoli, chopped (including stems)

1 ½ cups of chopped celery

2 cup thinly sliced carrots

4 oz. can of sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 tbs. cornstarch

½ cup plus 2 tbs. water (divided)

 In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and lemon juice.  Add chicken, cover and refrigerate to marinate while you chop the veggies. When chopping the broccoli, cut the stems into thin coins and then cut the coins into halves or quarters, and they will cook just as fast as the rest of the veggies.  

 When the veggies are ready and set aside, heat your oil in a wok or nonstick skillet set on medium-high.  Lift chicken from the marinade with tongs or a slotted spoon to drain.  Add to wok and sauté on medium-high stirring quickly until just tender and cooked through.  Remove chicken to a bowl and set aside.  Add all veggies except water chestnuts to your wok and toss quickly for about 1 minute.  Add 2 tbs. of water; reduce heat to medium, cover and steam for about 3 minutes.  

 While veggies are steaming, combine cornstarch and the ½ cup water to the remaining marinade and blend well with a fork or whisk to break up all the lumps of cornstarch and thicken the sauce. Add chestnuts and chicken back to the veggies and stir.  Pour the marinade-sauce over the chicken and vegetables, stirring gently until sauce thickens.  Serve immediately. 

 Great over steamed brown rice, Chinese noodles, or just by itself!

 Serves 4 Variations:  The nicest thing about this recipe is that if you have no Asian market nearby, and your grocery stores Asian food shelves consist of soy sauce and a dusty box of fortune cookies, you can still make a great stir-fry.  If you have dark sesame oil, pepper oil, fish sauce, or anything else you would like to add go for it!  It will only enhance this recipe.  You can also replace the lemon juice with sake, wine, or sherry if you would prefer. The vegetables listed here are the ones that I have found the hardiest in keeping fresh in the fridge, and that I am able to find fresh year round.  You can use any combination of these, or anything else you would like stir-fried.  Some other options are mushrooms, peppers, squash, zucchini, fresh grated ginger, beans, snow peas, and sweet potatoes.  This recipe also works with other kinds of meat or none at all.  I use just a little bit of meat, more as a garnish than a main ingredient, so if you can increase the amount by as much as double for the amount of marinade this recipe makes.  Any more meat than that and you will also have to increase the amount of marinade that you make.

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