There's a wonderful Oriental Foods market/warehouse in my city that is my go-to place for all my Chinese and Thai ingredients for stir fries and curries. The workers are always friendly and helpful, but I managed to stump them on my recent visit. After seeing Holly (of the incredible Phe.MOM.enon blog) post this delicious-looking recipe for Chile Honey Chicken, I made tracks to the warehouse to scout out Ponzu sauce. I knew I was looking for a citrus infused soy sauce and was hoping to find a bottle clearly labeled. No such luck. I called on two sales associates for help, but neither could read Japanese and so were as lost as I was among the rows of characters. They retired apologetically, but I was determined to find what I needed for my recipe. After turning over and reading the labels of at least a dozen bottles filled with dark liquid, I found it. Ponzu, in teeny tiny print on a teeny tiny label on the back of a bottle. One of the sales associates suggested I put in an application. I declined; my kids would probably miss me. I picked up the necessary Sweet Chili Sauce and headed home, triumphant, to get my stir fry on.
This is what my elusive ingredients looked like:
This dish beats the pants off of takeout and calls it names. I only made minor changes to Holly's delightful recipe; I added some soy sauce, and tripled or quadrupled the veggies. We all enjoyed it and now that I have the ingredients on hand it'll be on regular meal rotation for us. If you're dying to try this but don't have easy access to Asian ingredients, Google does turn up recipes for both of these ready-made sauces.
Sweet Chili Chicken Stir FryOriginal Recipe from PheMOMenon, changes noted in italic
Makes 4-6 Servings
For the chicken:
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast or tenderloins
1/3 cup ponzu sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
2/3 cup cornstarch*
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh sugar snap or snow peas
1 cup carrots, sliced thin on an angle
1 broccoli crown, cut into small florets
1 large onion, large diced
For the sauce:
1/4 cup honey (I used just a tablespoon or two less than 1/4 c.)
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons butter, melted (I used 2 T.)
2 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic, minced very fine
Pinch red pepper flake, or more, to taste (despite having the word chili in its name, the chili sauce is definitely more sweet than spicy, so if you like zip in your dish, I wouldn't shy away from 1/2 tsp. or so of crushed red pepper flakes)
Trim and cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and place them in a large ziptop bag with the ponzu and sweet chili sauces. Mash the chicken in the bag a bit to get it all covered in the marinade. Set the bag aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (I usually start the rice or noodles now so it will be ready when the chicken is done).
While the chicken is marinating, make the sauce by whisking the honey, chili sauce, soy sauce, butter, water, garlic and pepper flake together in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in the wok, add a clove of minced garlic if desired, and cook the veggies. I always put in carrots and broccoli stalk pieces first, as they take longest to cook, and then add onions and broccoli florets. Snow or sugar snap peas really only take a minute or two, and can be cooked in the final step when the sauce is added.
Use a colander over the sink and pour the chicken out in the colander, discarding any marinade left over. Toss the chicken pieces lightly in a large bowl with the cornstarch, preferably working a few pieces at a time.
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, fry a few pieces of chicken at a time until golden on all sides, about 2 minutes total. Work in batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Remove cooked pieces and set them aside while cooking the remaining chicken. About half way through the batches you can add more oil to heat if needed.
Once all the chicken is cooked, pour any remaining excess oil out of the pan, but don’t worry about any other little bits, they will be absorbed in the sauce. Turn the heat down to medium, return the veggies to the pan, and add the sauce to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir the sauce and let it boil in the hot pan for 1 minute before adding the chicken pieces into the pan. Stir the chicken in the sauce to coat. Toss in the peas and stir to coat. Allow the mixture to simmer and cook in the sauce until everything is hot, glazed and the sauce is almost completely absorbed - about 3 minutes.
Serve hot over rice or noodles and enjoy! Leftovers can be pepped up with a little extra sweet chili sauce.
*Holly mentions that you can skip the cornstarch frying all together and just stir fry the chicken for a quicker and lighter alternative.