Enter Chinese Food Made Easy, with Ching-He Huang. She's an adorable teeny thing with a British accent and just a hint of snark. I love Chinese food. So when the episode of her massaging chicken before making chow mein came on, and she made it look so easy, I had to try it.
The very first time I made it, I cheated. I didn't make the whole noodle part of the dish. I didn't have them in the house, but I did have all the fixins for the chicken. And I really wanted to massage the spices into it like Ching did.
It really is ridiculously easy to make this dish. I've since made it about three times (once with actual noodles—but it's the chicken that's the real star of the meal) Take some chicken strips, add the spices, heat up the oil, and you're eating in 5 minutes. Add some veggies because they're good for you, and you have a complete meal.
The original recipe lists the chile sauce as optional. Man up and throw some in, even if it's just a quarter-teaspoon. You'll appreciate the tiny kick of heat and additional depth of flavor.
Five Spice Chicken
adapted from Ching-He Huang's Chicken Chow Mein
yields 1 serving
1 skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon chile sauce
1 tablepoon sesame oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1. In a small bowl, combine the chicken with the soy sauce, five spice powder, and chile sauce. Using your hands, ensure the chicken is completely coated. (Give the poor chicken a good massage. It's stressed.)
2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large skillet. Once it begins to smoke, add the chicken strips and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes, until cooked through.
3. Add the bell peppers and cook for another minute. Serve immediately.
Ching's recipe also called for bean sprouts. I like adding in some enoki mushrooms. They taste better than bean sprouts (where better = not like dirt). You do whatever you need to get more veggies in your diet.