“Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” was a fascinating cookbook to write because my research included not only traditional stir-fries but how the Chinese diaspora managed to stir-fry in Peru, Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Malaysia, South Africa, Burma, India, and even in the Mississippi Delta. One of my favorite interviews brought me to Trinidad to meet Winnie Lee Lum. Her cooking integrates local ingredients she has learned from living in Trinidad for over forty years with the traditional Chinese stir-fry technique. Winnie explained to me, “Chinese food in Trinidad reflects the Creole and Indian influences. Just like the people of Trinidad, it can be a mix of everything. In Trinidad, we like stir-fries with a little heat from Scotch bonnet peppers.”
I’ve wanted to make a video featuring Winnie’s recipe for Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney because it’s so easy and delicious. A few weeks ago, I was lucky to work with my friend Harrison Jeffs to finally make this happen. I wish I’d taken a photo of Harrison as he was filming me but that was impossible. In the shot below, Harrison was checking the audio. As you can see my cat Huggy was monitoring the shoot.
For the recipe, except for the chicken, the ingredients are staples I keep on hand: mango chutney ( I like Geeta’s which is available at Whole Foods), ginger, garlic, onion, cilantro, regular and dark soy sauce. If you don’t have Scotch bonnet chilies (which BTW are super hot), you can substitute with hot pepper sauce, Serrano chilies or even red pepper flakes. Just remember when working with fresh chilies you should wear vinyl or rubber gloves to protect your skin from contact with the stinging chili oils.
With the current heatwave it’s a blessing not to have to stand in front of the stove for more than a few minutes. This stir-fry is so quick, it’s done in less than 5 minutes. Once you taste this you’ll be hooked on Caribbean stir-fries. Next, you’ll have to try Winnie’s Chinese Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum!
Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh, cut into 1/4-inch-thick bite-sized slices
2 teaspoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons mango chutney, chop up any large pieces
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
¼ to ½ teaspoon minced scotch bonnet peppers without the seeds
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 small onion cut into ¼-inch wide wedges
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. In a small bowl combine the mango chutney, dark soy sauce, and scotch bonnet peppers.
2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the ginger, garlic, and onions and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the onions have just wilted. Push the onion mixture to the side of the wok, and carefully add the chicken and spread evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed for 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 1 minute, or until the chicken is browned on all sides but not cooked through. Add the mango chutney mixture and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. Stir in the cilantro. Serves 3 as a main dish with rice or 4 as part of a multicourse meal.
Recipe excerpted from “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” published by Simon & Schuster.