$5 spicy coconut chicken stir fry

Today, I present the recipe for the quick and dirty chicken stir fry dish I make rather often. It’s quick, tasty, cheap, and paleo. Total cook time including prep is less than 30 minutes, and total cost is less than $5 per person per meal.

Ingredients from store

  • $4 – one package chicken thighs, look for high quality like Red Bird Farms
  • $1.50 – one yellow onion — I happened to pick up a Vidalia, but any will do
  • $2 – broccoli crowns
  • $2 – red pepper
  • $1 – kale (if you want)

I happen to really like chicken thighs. White meat tends to dry out, meaning you need more skillz to do it well. Dark meat is more forgiving towards cooks in a rush. Red Bird chicken thighs are around $2.99 / lb. whereas the breasts are closer to $7 or $8 / lb. It all comes from the same organic bird, and I’m continually astounded by how much better of a deal the thighs are versus the other parts. Go for the thighs. Your tastebuds and wallet thank you.

Ingredients from home

  • coconut oil for cooking
  • soy sauce
  • sriracha hot sauce

Chop all veggies coarsely and set aside (7 minutes). If you’re iffy on kale, remove the stems and keep just the leafy parts, as the stems are even less pleasant to eat than the leaves. Or if you hate kale, just leave it out. You won’t get arrested by the paleo police.

[nb, there is a way to make kale delicious and as you might have guessed, it involves bacon, but that’s another post for another time]

Chop the chicken thighs. This also takes around 7 minutes since they’re usually on the bone, and that can slow you down. I leave the skin on because I’m Chinese and we know that the skin contains all the secret flavor crystals. I usually do this step with a cleaver ($7 from the Chinese grocery store!) which means bits of bone sometimes get included.

Dangerous food is delicious food. You’ve been warned, and that’s a fact.

As you are chopping the last thigh or so, get your wok hot. (You knew you needed a wok when you read “stir fry” right?) Near maximum heat is good. When the wok is hot, add coconut oil and swirl it around to coat the surface. How much oil you ask? As much as you want, but err on the side of “more is better”. You can’t add too much really, especially since coconut oil is good for you.

Once the oil has melted, dump in the sriracha. How much you ask? You ask a lot of questions. The obvious answer here is “to taste”. If you are normal, then go slow. If you are Becca Shade, dump the whole bottle in and start slamming cabinets in anticipation. Hooah!

Be careful. The sriracha will sizzle and spatter, so this would be a good time to slam the wok lid on. Dump in soy sauce (and no, don’t ask me how much this time, silly white person). Swirl the wok a few more times to mix up your newly created awesome sauce.

Dump the chicken pieces in and inhale the beauty of frying meat. Breathe deep. It’s legal. Stir often. Because like, you know, that’s the whole point of stir fry. This stage takes maybe 7 minutes or less.

Once chicken is mostly cooked (changed from meat color to food color) dump in all the veggies. All of them. At this point, you can dump more coconut oil/soy sauce/sriracha on top, but err on the side of sparing at first since you have a mini-lake of awesome sauce at the bottom of the wok. As the veggies cook down (approx. another 7 — 10 minutes) continue stirring. It helps to have the cover on during this phase so the steam cooks the veggies from the top.

Ideally, your land-o-flavor-lake at the bottom of the wok is sufficient to keep items from burning and sticking to the surface, enough to the point where you can leave it covered and walk away for a few minutes to enjoy a cigarette or my latest twitter updates (speaking of awesome sauce…). You’re done when the veggies are cooked. I usually call it good when the majority (but not all) of the onions are 80% caramelized.

Serve the dish over a bed of… nothing! This is a paleo dish, remember? You don’t need a stupid starchy crutch with your dinner. Eat as much as you want, guilt-free and celebrate by drinking the sweet sweet (and spicy!) gravy out of a chalice made from the skull of your neighbor who eats tofu and whole wheat because it’s “healthy”.

In other news, Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) is almost ready for release, so here — look at some pictures that are vaguely related!