(THE WASHINGTON POST) - Americans’ taste for spicy and hot food seems to be on the uptick. But when you possess a sensitive palate or digestive tract or you are cooking for someone who does, a flexible recipe — and healthful — that tastes good at both mild and wild ends of the spectrum makes things easy.
This stir-fry is a pantry-friendly way to go. Its classic ginger-garlic combination gives the dish enough flavour on its own; as soon as the green beans are warmed through, you can serve a portion as is. For those who can take the heat, your subsequent add-in options are many: a squirt of Sriracha, a dash of sweet chili sauce, hot sauce or chilli-infused honey or a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes among them.
Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are called for here because they are in the Dinner in Minutes Pantry (new item included in this recipe: fresh ginger!). They are less expensive than boneless, skinless thighs and you will be able to stockpile bones and skin for making wonderful things like chicken soup and fried chicken skins. But if you already have the latter on hand, you will save a step.Serve with rice or rice noodles. You can chop up any leftovers for making fried rice.
227g frozen green beans
3 or 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
3.8cm piece fresh ginger root
2 Tbs vegetable or grapeseed oil
2 tsp low-sodium soya sauce or more as needed
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce (optional)
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1. Place the green beans in paper towel so they defrost a bit.
2. Pull the skin from the chicken; freeze or discard it. Use a sharp knife to cut the flesh away from the bone; freeze the bones for making stock at another time. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces.
3. Coarsely chop the onion. Smash, peel and mince the garlic. Use a spoon to scrape away the skin of the ginger root, then grate or mince the ginger to yield at least 2 teaspoons (the more, the better).
4. Cut the green beans into 2.5cm lengths.
5. Heat the oil in a wok or deep saute pan over medium-high heat. As soon as the oil shimmers, swirl it around to coat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger; stir-fry for about 40 seconds, just until fragrant, and then add the chicken pieces. Stir-fry for about 4 minutes or until they have taken on some colour and are almost cooked through.
6. Add the green beans and soya sauce; stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the water. Cover and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, then uncover, drop in the basil leaves and season lightly with salt and pepper.
7. At this point, the flavor will be mild. Taste, and add more soya sauce, as needed. Serve your guests who like it that way, and then season what is left in the pan with a spicy component before dishing out the rest.