Posts tagged ‘stir-fry’

Five Spice Chicken and Noodle Stir-fry

I have a confession.

Stir-fries make me a little nervous.

Why you ask?

All that heat!
You have to cook everything very quickly, and at a really really high temperature.
The result?

Spitting oil,

excessive smoke,

smoke detector going off,


At least, that’s pretty much how it goes in my head.

In reality it’s not quite as dramatic. It’s more like I just get really busy flinging everything in the skillet, stirring it around, trying to avoid any spitting oil (okay, that part is true), and not being able to hear anything my husband is saying because the vent for our stove is so ridiculously loud.

So, I honestly don’t make all that many stir-fries. Plus, I have an electric stove, and I think you really need a gas stove and a wok to make really good stir-fries, but that’s just my opinion.

I decided to try out this stir-fry recipe from Jamie Oliver, however, because it sounded interesting yet yummy, is really fast, and quite simple, really.
I wondered if such a simple and fast recipe could be really good or not, so I tried it out.
And it was really good!

It’s called Chicken Goujons with Noodles, but I call it Five Spice Chicken and Noodle Stir-fry. Whatever you call it, it’s definitely tasty, but not your average stir-fry. If you have a really busy night coming up, give this a try. The five spice powder gives it an intriguing flavor that’s delicious with the chicken. Did I mention it’s fast?

Five Spice Chicken and Noodle Stir-fry

(serves 2)

  • 8 oz. dried flat egg noodles
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut or canola oil (or any high heat cooking oil)
  • 2 medium chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried red chili
  • 2 tsp. five spice powder
  • 5 – 6 green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • large handful of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions (typically these only need to cook for a few minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken, ginger, and chili. Stir around quickly, then add the five spice powder.
  3. Once the chicken is browned, add the green onions, soy sauce, and honey, and mix everything.
  4. Add the drained noodles and cilantro to the skillet. Toss everything together, adjust the seasoning to taste (add more soy sauce, honey, or five spice powder as desired), and serve.

recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Goujons with Noodles


November 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Sesame Chicken (the non-deep fried version)

The weather has been so nice this week (high temp around 80° F), that Hisa and I decided to get out of the house and go somewhere yesterday. I’d been wanting to go to the zoo, so we decided to go there.
It was the perfect day for it. It was warm and sunny with some clouds, but not so warm it was hot and uncomfortable. Since the weather was nice, most of the animals were out (if you’ve ever gone to the zoo in the summer when it’s hot, then you probably know that many of the animals are in their dens asleep, where you can’t see them), which was nice.

I’ve always loved animals and going to zoos. It reminds me of my childhood dream to be a zoologist. That is until I discovered that zoologists have to take a huge number of science courses in college. I kinda changed my mind after that…
Still, it was a lot of fun seeing the animals, and just getting out of the house and enjoying the weather.

After the zoo, we got coffee, checked out our favorite used bookstore, and headed home. It was a fun day. With lots of cute, fuzzy animals. That’s hard the beat in my opinion. 🙂


Sesame chicken is probably my favorite American Chinese buffet dish, in all of its fried, artificial, and unhealthy glory. Terrible, I know. It’s still my favorite though. Even if I only eat it once in a blue moon.

I’ve been gradually trying to expand my repertoire of Chinese dishes I can cook, so I decided to try my hand at sesame chicken this week (albiet, a somewhat healthier version).

The breading of this chicken doesn’t have the same uniform texture of deep fried sesame chicken, but it’s still really good. I also didn’t make it as sweet as restaurant style sesame chicken, but feel free to adjust the sweetness level to your own tastes.

First, mix up your marinade ingredients: 1 egg, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. cooking sake (or cooking wine if you don’t have it), a couple drops of sesame oil, 2 Tbsp. unbleached flour, 2 Tbsp. corn starch, 2 Tbsp. water, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. baking soda.
Cut up 3 – 4 chicken breast into bite sized pieces, mix it with the marinade until it’s well coated, and let it marinate for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix up your sauce ingredients: 1/2 c. water, 1 c. chicken broth, 1/4 c. white vinegar, 3 Tbsp. corn starch, 1/3 c. sucanat (or honey or sugar), 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1/8 tsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. chili paste (more if you want it hot), 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp. onion powder.
Boy, doesn’t that look yummy?! Ahahaha…

 Heat a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (or peanut oil if you have it) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, and let it cook on one side until well browned, then flip it, and let it cook on the other side.

Once you’ve browned the chicken pieces on both sides, you can chop it up so the pieces aren’t sticking to each other, and stir-fry it around until it’s cooked through.

Once the chicken is cooked through, pour on enough sauce to coat the chicken well (Don’t drown it. I had extra), mix it well, and continue stirring it around until the sauce thickens to consistency you want. Add about 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, and mix them up well.
Serve with steamed rice, and any other chinese dishes you want. I served the sesame chicken with rice and  my sweet and sour vegetable stir-fry.


Sesame Chicken

(serves 4)

  • 3 – 4 chicken breasts


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking sake
  • Around 3 drops sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
  • 2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda


  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder or corn starch
  • 1/3 c. sucanat, honey, or sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. chili paste
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (or peanut oil)
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, and mix with marinade until well coated. Let marinate for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook on one side, without stirring, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Flip, and cook on the opposite side, without stirring, until well browned. Stir-fry chicken until completely cooked through, another 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Pour enough sauce on chicken so that it is well coated (you may not need all). Stir constantly until sauce thickens to the desired consistency. Adjust sauce seasoning to taste (add more sugar or chili paste if desired).
  5. Sprinkle on sesame seeds and mix well.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.

March 29, 2012 at 8:58 am 8 comments

Menu Plan Monday for January 2 – 7

Happy New Year!!

I’d like to say that I spent New Year’s Eve with my husband at a terribly fun and exciting New Year’s Eve party, but instead we were in a hotel room, and went to bed at around 10:45 pm. What can I say? I value my sleep more than watching an over-sized disco ball slowly descend.

We were out of town for the weekend visiting relatives, which is why we ended up spending New Year’s Eve in a hotel room. Before crashing prematurely in our hotel room, however, we did have lovely dinner at a nice restaurant with relatives we hadn’t seen in a year (some longer), so I can’t say that we didn’t have a good time.

Now we’re back at home, and today is my parents’ last day of vacation before everything goes back to normal. Well, as normal as they have been since Hisa and I came back to the U.S.

Hisa has been applying to jobs, and I’ve been helping my parents around the house by cooking and cleaning (my mom says she’s not sure if she’s going to let us leave), and also trying to blog and work out consistently.

Here’s one of our family Christmas pictures (minus my mom who was taking the picture). From left to right: My dad; my sister-in-law, Stephanie; my brother, Nathan; my other brother’s girlfriend, Erin; my brother, Brandon; Hisa; and me. Fun times. I love Christmas! It’s always nice at the beginning of a new year though. There’s so many new possibilities, new hopes, new dreams. For Hisa and myself, I know this year will bring big changes. I just hope and pray they’ll be good ones, and look forward to what this year brings.

Menu Plan for Jan. 2 – 7:

Minestrone soup and focaccia bread

Sweet and sour chicken and veggie stir-fry and steamed brown rice

Spicy bean burritos

Sesame soba noodles with veggies and marinated chicken

Italian sausage and kale soup and fresh bread

Mushroom bolognese and tossed salad

January 3, 2012 at 3:29 am Leave a comment

Chop Chae (Jap Chae / Chap Chae) – Korean Noodles With Vegetables and Beef

Hisa and I are moving out of our apartment in less than a month!

The final countdown has begun!

*cue music*

Ba da da duuun

Ba da da da dun

Ba da da duuuun

Ba da da da da da

duuuun da da duuuuuun da da duuuuuun da da da da da da duuuuuuuuun da di da di duuuuuuuuun

Ah, sorry. I love that song though.

So we’re moving out of our apartment in less than a month. I’ve been trying to gradually get rid of things as it gets closer. Getting rid of things in Japan is not that simple though. You can’t just donate stuff to Goodwill (no such place around here), and you definitely can’t just throw stuff away.

Well, let me rephrase that. You can throw things away, but it takes careful planning and thought. All trash has to be separated according to the city’s standards and thrown away in the proper manner on the proper day.

If the trash is large (there’s specific measurements as to what qualifies), then it automatically becomes “over-sized trash”. For over-size trash you have to buy a special stamp (usually costing either 400 yen or 800 yen, about $4 or $8) to put on the item when you throw it away, call the city trash division, and make an appointment for them to come pick it up. Needless to say, over-sized trash is a bit of a pain in the butt.

I’ve been figuring out what needs to be thrown away and when, trying to sell other things, and figuring out what food we have a lot of that needs to be eaten/used before we leave.

For some unknown reason, we have a lot of noodles. Mainly Japanese somen and soba noodles (although we also have some Thai rice noodles). I’ve been trying to think of interesting recipes that I can use them for other than the basic cold soba/somen and hot soba in soup. It’s too chilly for the basic cold noodles, and although soba noodles in hot soup is good, honestly, I’m not a huge fan. So I’ve been improvising a bit.

I was searching online yesterday for interesting noodle recipes, and came across chop chae (also called jap chae), a Korean noodle dish with vegetables and beef. I love chop chae, but I haven’t had it in years, so I decided spur of the moment to make it for dinner last night.

Now if you know what chop chae is you might be thinking, “But wait! Chop chae involves neither somen nor soba!”. My answer to you would be yes, friend, this is true. But that’s what improvising is all about!

Chop chae uses cellophane noodles (also called glass noodles), which are made from sweet potatoes and turn clear when you cook them.

I used somen. Because I have a lot of somen. So there!

I also didn’t have any mushrooms or spinach (common ingredients for chop chae), and instead used Chinese cabbage (hakusai in Japanese). It still tasted great!

If you make chop chae, your noodles will be cellophane noodles and clear looking, unlike my somen noodles here. Or you can be cool like me and make it with somen!

I went a little crazy with the sesame seeds on top, but I just really like sesame seeds. Don’t hate.

Chop Chae (Jap Chae)

(serves 2 – 3 as a main dish)

  • About 250 – 300 grams cellophane noodles
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking sake
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet cooking sake (mirin)
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced beef
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 3 – 4 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (or half of one Japanese negi)
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  1. Mix cooking sake, mirin, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a bowl. Add beef and mix so that beef is coated. Set aside and let marinade.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook cellophane noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse noodles, mix with 1 Tbsp. sesame oil in a bowl, and set aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pour beaten eggs into pan and cook until egg is solid, without scrambling/stirring. Place egg onto cutting board and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
  4. Add a little more oil to skillet. Add onion, carrot, and mushrooms, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add beef to skillet and cook until brown. When beef is almost completely browned, add green onion, garlic, and spinach. Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes.
  6. Add remaining 3 Tbsp. of soy sauce, and sugar, and mix. Continue cooking for 1 – 2 more minutes.
  7. Add egg, vegetable mixture, noodles, and remaining 1 Tbsp. sesame oil to skillet. Mix everything so that noddles and vegetables are well coated with sauce and heated through. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

I served my chop chae with a spicy Korean vegetable soup.



October 20, 2011 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

Sweet & Sour Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

It seems that the vicinity of my apartment complex has become the place to be if your a female cat in heat these days.

It started out a few days ago with just one yowling cat. Annoying, yes, but manageable. Then came another yowling cat. They just sit together outside of my complex and yowl together. Day and night. Now I think there’s actually three of them. I think that maybe this is some kind of female-kitty-in-heat bonding or something.

cat 1: Um, like, are you in heat?

cat 2: Yeah.

cat 1: OMG, me TOO!

cat 3: No WAY! Me TOO!

cat 2: OMG, for realz?! We like, TOTALLY need to yowl together until we can gets us some man kitty!

cat 1: Like, totally!

cat 3: Fur sure!

What? So I imagine that the kitties outside of my apartment yowling incessantly talk with a valley girl accent. So what?

Don’t judge.


Moving on, while I was in the U.S., I ended up cooking quite a bit for my parents and husband. My mom doesn’t cook so much anymore since my brothers and I all left home (sorry Dad), and I enjoy cooking, so I was happy to cook for them. I even remembered to take pictures of most of the things I cooked, so I could blog about them later.

After we got back to Japan, however, it seems I somehow deleted all the pictures in a jet-lag induced haze… A 13+ hour flight will do that to ya. Trust me.

Fortunately, I have an older picture of one of the dishes I cooked while in the States: Sweet & Sour Chicken and Veggie Stir-fry

This picture makes me hungry…

I love stir-fries, and how you can include just about anything you want in them. I love having a lot of different vegetables and nuts in mine.

I’ve learned a few things about stir-fries though, mainly from messing them up a lot.

1) Always stir-fry things at a high temperature. You don’t want anything spontaneously combusting, but you do need a high heat to cook your veggies/meat quickly.

2) Because you cook stir-fries at a high temperature, you need to use an oil with a high smoke point. If you don’t, your oil will start to smoke from the high temperature, break down, and generally taste icky. So what are some oils with high smoke points good for stir-frying?

  • canola oil
  • coconut oil
  • peanut oil – I heard this is what Chinese cooks usually use, so I guess it’s bona fide. 😀
  • grape seed oil

What oils shouldn’t you use for stir-frying:

olive oil – low heat point, especially true for extra-virgin olive oil

sesame oil – good for flavoring after your done cooking, but not good for stir-frying

3) Either cook each vegetable/meat separately, or cook vegetables with a similar cooking time together. This prevents overcooking some vegetables, while others are still hard.

4) Don’t cook too large an amount of veggies/meat in your wok or pan at one time. If you have too many veggies in your pan, they’ll end up steaming rather than stir-frying, and they’ll lose their crunchiness. If you follow the previous tip though, you shouldn’t have a problem with this.

5) Once you start cooking, things go pretty quickly, so I find it’s easier to have everything cut up and ready to go before I start stir-frying.

6) Add nuts! Actually this is just my personal preference, but I think nuts always make stir-fries better, so add nuts! (unless of course you have a nut allergy, in which case you shouldn’t add nuts… please don’t sue me…)

Okay, that’s all the tips I can think of off the top of my head. If you have any more, please let me know! I’m by no means an expert on stir-fries, so I’m always happy to learn new tips if ya have ’em!

Okay, on to the recipe!

I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but I’ve altered it a bit over time to suit my tastes and preferences, so I suppose this is my version.

Sweet & Sour Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

  • 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 egg white
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • 1 10-ounce can of pineapple in juice
  • 1/4 c. juice from pineapple
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar (or rice vinegar)
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 c. of peanuts, cashews, or almonds (optional)
  • Veggies of your choice (Veggies I’ve used that work great: broccoli, onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, fresh green beans, sugar snap peas, carrots, fresh ginger, etc. Basically anything goes.)
  • Oil for stir-frying
  1. Combine egg white, dash of salt, and 2 tsp. corn starch in a wide, shallow bowl. Add chicken and mix until well coated. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. To make sweet & sour sauce, combine pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, and corn starch in a bowl and set aside (I usually cook a large amount of vegetables, so I often double the sauce).
  3. Cut up vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and cut pineapple into chunks.
  4. Heat a wok or skillet with a thick bottom until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on it. Add 1 Tbsp. oil, then add chicken and spread it out so that the pieces are separated. Cook 1 – 2 minutes without stirring, then flip the chicken over and cook on opposite side 1 – 2 minutes. Stir chicken around and continue cooking until chicken is completely cooked through. Remove from skillet.
  5. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet and briefly fry nuts (or you can toast them). Remove from skillet.
  6. Begin stir-frying vegetables in batches, cooking vegetables with similar cooking times together, or stir-fry each vegetable separately. Stir-fry until still slightly crunchy. Add more oil when necessary.
  7. In a large pot, mix the chicken, veggies, nuts, pineapple chunks, and sweet and sour sauce, and toss until everything is well coated in sauce. Briefly heat mixture on medium/low heat until warmed through. Serve with steamed brown or white rice.


April 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm 2 comments

About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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