Have you ever had Burmese food before? I certainly had not. So when I saw this recipe in Saveur (which happens to be my new favorite food magazine), I knew I wanted to try it as something totally new. Burma is a country we are familiar with in our house because Craig worked for clients there when he was working for the Public International Law and Policy Group. But being familiar with the political situation in Burma gave us no clue about the country’s cuisine. After trying this recipe, though, I would certainly like to try more.
In order to make this recipe, I had to convince myself that I was totally over my fear of too much fish sauce, which I pretty much did. I still reduced the amount a little from what was in the original recipe, but I pretty much went for it. The end result was excellent. Because it cooks entirely over high heat (this was the key technique emphasized in the stir-frying issue of Saveur in which it appeared), this stir-fry produces lots of those wonderful dark browned bits that give a dish like this so much flavor. This dish is also a nice change from the Chinese-style stir-fries I usually make, since it contains none of my usual sauce ingredients (soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, etc.). It has a great saltiness from the fish sauce, it’s spicy, and the flavors work together really well. And as a bonus, if you try it, you can say you’ve had Burmese food.
Burmese chicken stir-fry
Lightly adapted from: Saveur
- 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ thick strips
- 2 Tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small onion, cut into 3⁄4″ pieces
- 2 tsp. sweet paprika (I only had smoked, so I used that, but reduced the amount to about 1 tsp. since it’s a stronger flavor)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1″ piece ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 small zucchini, cut into 1” sticks (this ingredient is in the print version of the magazine, but does not appear in the online recipe for some reason. I highly recommend using it.)
- 1 large Anaheim or poblano pepper, seeded and diced (I used Anaheim)
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (due to my fear of too much fish sauce, I used about 1.5 Tbsp. Either way works.)
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- My additions (optional): small squirt of Sriracha sauce and dry-roasted peanuts
1. Combine chicken, 1Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. cornstarch, salt and pepper in a bowl; let marinate for 15 minutes.
2. Combine paprika, cumin, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Heat a cast iron skillet (or a wok) over high heat. Add ½ Tbsp. oil. Add onions; cook until softened but not too dark, 1–2 minutes. Move onions to side; add remaining oil to center of pan. Add chicken in a single layer. Let cook without stirring for 1 minute. Continue cooking, tossing vigorously, until chicken is opaque, about 1 minute more.
4. Add spice mixture; cook, tossing constantly, for 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and Anaheim pepper, along with Sriracha if using; cook, stirring constantly, until peppers begin to soften, 2–3 minutes. Stir in fish sauce and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Add zucchini and continue to cook until just tender and chicken is cooked through, 1–2 minutes. Stir in chili powder; season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice and sprinkle with peanuts if desired.