Chicken w. Snow Peas is seen on many Chinese takeout menus. This version that you make at home is superior to those, starting with a highly flavorful white sauce.
Have you ever looked over a typical Chinese take out menu?
There are a lot of options on there. Granted it's usually a lot of different combinations, with different meats and sauces.
I could start an entire blog just featuring recipes taken from that menu. But since I am only one person I will resist that for now and pick one recipe to cover.
I love growing fresh peas in my garden. They are so much better freshly picked than shipped in all the way from Guatemala. Nearly all the snow or snap peas in the grocery store come from Guatemala. And in that long travel, most of their natural sweetness is converted to starch.
The Chinese dish I decide to cover on my blog is Chicken with Snow Peas. I sampled the dish from my local takeout place and came up with a recipe for what I think tops theirs.
Chinese Over Burgers
Before I get into the recipe I wanted to say that Chinese food or the Americanized version there of, has become my go to when I have something going on and can't make lunch at home. It's typically cheap, easy to find, and filling.
I find it to be a much better option than your standard fast food burger joint. I feel like if I eat at one of those I find myself hungry an hour later. Pay about the same price either place so might as well get "Chinese".
What is in Chicken with Snow Peas?
Yes it is chicken with snow peas - pretty self explanatory.
The chicken and snow peas are coated in a white sauce That sauce usually has a chicken broth base. How good the sauce is really determines how good the dish is. Don't worry, the sauce I made is full of flavor.
The dish often features water chestnuts that come in a can.
What are Water Chesnuts?
If you ever wondered what those are, they are not actual chestnuts at all. They are a tuber of a plant that resembles a grass. It is native to the Eastern Hemisphere and grows underwater - hence the name "water chestnut". The only way most people here in the U.S. will find them is in a can. If you have a good Asian market nearby, you might be able to find the fresh thing. I haven't seen them myself, so for this recipe I call for the canned.
What is Hoisin Sauce?
For additional flavor and some body, I add an couple tablespoons of Hoisin sauce. The main ingredient of Hoisin sauce is fermented soybean paste, whether as soy sauce is a liquid, not a paste. Every Hoisin sauce is different. A lot of them contain chili peppers to add in a little bit of heat.
Before you give this recipe a try, here are some things you'll want to know.
- Use the freshest peas you can get your hands on. I used 3 different colored snow peas from my garden. You could use snap peas too. I prefer snow in this case as they cook faster.
- You can use breasts or thighs for the this recipe. I prefer the taste of thigh meat, but white meat looks better when cooked so I used that for the photo.
- If you can use homemade chicken stock. It has a more rich flavor than you are going to get in a can or carton.
- Adding a little Chinese 5 spice is a great way to spice up this dish. 5 Spice is typically made up of blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. You can make it yourself by combining all these ingredients or you can buy it already put together. Making it yourself will give you a fresher, stronger flavor.
- The soy sauce I use in the sauce is low sodium. I want to control the amount of salt I use so I always buy the lower sodium soy sauce - that still contains plenty of salt.
- You can serve it with any type of rice you like. I really like Jasmine rice because I think it has more flavor than just regular white rice.
Homemade Chinese Chicken with Snow Peas
- 8-10 ounces of snow peas removed strings if needed
- 1 can around 8 ounces of water chestnuts, drained, and sliced
- kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon flour or corn starch
- 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
- 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
- white or black sesame seeds optional
- Heat up a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Add 3 tablespoon of oil
- Once hot, add the chicken. Season liberally with kosher salt.
- Stir frequently to make sure each piece is evenly cooked
- While your waiting for the chicken to cook, mix together all the ingredients of the sauce.
- Once the chicken is cooked all the way through, remove to a plate.
- Add the snow peas and water chestnuts. Season with salt. Add more a little more oil if needed. Cook until the peas are brighter in color with some bite left to them about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour or corn starch over the peas and water chestnuts.
- Add the sauce, stirring to cover all the veggies.
- Add the chicken back in.
- Cook until the sauce has thickened, a couple of minutes.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.
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