There’s a line in the introduction to the recipe for Stir-Fried Chicken with Leeks, Oyster Mushrooms, and Peanuts in Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now where she really gets to the heart of the matter on stir-fries:
And here’s what I’ve learned, something I’ve known in theory but never really lived: stir-fries are easy. They are quick. The hardest part is cutting up the ingredients, but once that is done, dinner practically is, too.
I can relate. Everyone is always saying this about stir-fries, but I never quite believed it in my heart of hearts. So far everything I’ve made from Cook This Now has been delicious, and all of Clark’s advice sound, which was enough to make me give this recipe a shot.
So off I went to make this recipe, a simple stir-fry that maximizes flavor by using interesting ingredients. Usually you’d see scallions here, but Clark calls for leeks, and their rich sweetness sets a powerful bassline for the dish. The mushroom guy at the market was out of oyster mushrooms, so I used shiitakes instead, and that worked just fine. Quickly marinating the cut up chicken thighs (you could use breasts if for some reason you hate flavor) in the soy-vinegar-sesame-sugar really ups the flavor of the meat, and the garnish of peanuts adds crunch. I substituted Clark’s garnish of cilantro with sliced scallions, because I had some cilantro haters in the house.
This was possibly the best stir-fry I’ve ever made. The specificity of ingredients here made this a little more exciting than the usual Bittman stir-fry, which can be so lenient in its recommendation of ingredients as to leave you in the lurch. With a big salad and a pot of brown rice, what you’ve got is a quick and delicious weeknight dinner that’s also good enough to serve to company.