I love me some leeks. Leeks with calamari. Leeks with beef. Grilled leeks. Stir fried leeks. Mixed in with some eggs – simply perfect. Since KJ is (surprisingly) scallion obsessed, I threw some leeks – more or less jumbo scallions – into the shopping cart to test the waters with a basic, go-to Asian stir-fry. If the recipe took, it would get quickly absorbed into our fast and easy weeknight/school-night repertoire.
But rather than going about my usual cook/by/feel ways – a tendency with stir-fries, I thought I’d read up to see if there was something different I could do or add to make a simple dish even better. Yes, I really wanted this recipe to take.
What I found were a few tips from a recipe for pork and leeks, published in Saveur, which explained “reverse” stir-frying – adding vegetables in before meat. In the past, I’ve always done just the opposite. However, according to the article, cooking veggies first tends to be more forgiving since vegetables will release water and stick less if the wok is not hot enough. Also, the recipe suggests that slicing the leeks on the diagonal releases fragrance faster. Huh. Go figure. I had always thought it just looked prettier that way.
So with a few new tricks up my sleeve, I started with dinner. Or rather, KJ started with dinner while I documented (I am loving my new camera). So nice to have an extra set of hands around!
Stir Fried Chicken with Leeks
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 2 free range chicken breasts, thinly sliced into strips
- 4 leeks, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick slices
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
For the chicken marinade:
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- fresh ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
First, prepare the chicken – combine ingredients for the marinade and add the sliced chicken. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
While the chicken is soaking in all that goodness, slice and cook the leeks. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large wok over high heat; give the oil a couple of swirls in the wok to thoroughly coat the surface. Once the oil is heated, add the sliced leeks. Constantly stir and cook the leeks until they are fragrant and just begin to brown, ~3-4 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil, again swirl to coat the wok surfaces. Add chicken and cook, constantly stirring, until chicken is slightly browned and just caramelized (add an additional drizzle of honey or a bit of brown sugar if a slight caramel crust isn’t achieved yet), ~2-3 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the leeks back in, stir to mix, and cook for an additional minute. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle the extra tablespoon of sesame seed oil.
The recipe took. Yay!