Chicken Stir Fry

Want better than take-out food? Try this recipe, which takes a short amount of time to cook, and pair with some brown rice, quinoa or farro for a well-balanced meal. Try switching out the chicken thighs for chicken breast or tofu, peanuts for cashews or adding more vegetables. The recipe calls for sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili sauce that can be found at most grocery stores.  In a pinch, sriracha can be used to replace it. Enjoy!

2 tsp. plus ¼ cup soy sauce
2½ tsp. cornstarch, divided
1½ tsp. sugar, divided
½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp. sambal oelek
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
4 garlic cloves
1 2-inch-piece ginger
6 scallions
4 celery stalks
4 oz. dates, preferably Medjool (about 5)
1½ cups cilantro leaves with tender stems, divided
⅓ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup roasted, salted peanuts
Rice (for serving; optional)

Whisk together 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1½ tsp. cornstarch, ½ tsp. sugar and ½ tsp. salt in a medium bowl; set marinade aside. Cut 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs into ½” pieces. Transfer to bowl with reserved marinade and toss to evenly coat. Set chicken aside.

Whisk 3 Tbsp. sambal oelek, 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar, remaining ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tsp. cornstarch, 1 tsp. sugar, and ¼ cup water in a small bowl or measuring glass. Set sauce aside.

Lightly smash 4 garlic cloves, then peel and finely chop. Finely chop ginger and combine it with the garlic in a small bowl.

Trim roots from the scallions, then slice crosswise into ½” pieces. If there are any leaves attached to 4 celery stalks, remove and coarsely chop them; set side for serving. Cut stalks in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ½ inch-thick pieces. Remove and discard pits from dates. Cut flesh into ½ inch pieces. Combine scallions, celery and dates in a medium bowl.

Coarsely chop 1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems. Reserve remaining ½ cup cilantro leaves with tender stems unchopped for serving.

Combine ⅓ cup vegetable oil and ¾ cup roasted, salted peanuts in a large cast-iron skillet. Set skillet over medium heat and cook nuts, stirring often to encourage even toasting, until they are a few shades darker and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using a slotted spoon so you leave the oil behind, transfer nuts to a small plate.

Set skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Cook garlic and ginger, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until very fragrant but not yet browned, about 30 seconds.

Add reserved chicken and cook, stirring to break it apart, until it is no longer pink on the outsides, about 3 minutes. At this point, it will still be slightly undercooked inside, but it will cook a few more minutes with the remaining vegetables.

Add scallions, celery and dates and cook, stirring often, until scallions are bright green and slightly softened, about 2 minutes. The celery should still be quite crisp and crunchy.

Give reserved sauce a good stir to be sure cornstarch is incorporated, then add to skillet. Cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens and turns glossy and chicken and vegetables are evenly coated, about 2 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in fried peanuts and chopped cilantro. Taste stir-fry and add a little more salt if you think it needs it. Serve straight out of the skillet or transfer to a shallow bowl. Scatter reserved celery leaves (if you have them) and cilantro leaves over. Serve with rice alongside. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts per serving (using quinoa): Calories: 565, Total Fat 28g, Saturated fat: 3.5g, Total Carbohydrate: 50g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 27g

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