Friday, June 7, 2013

How to Make Chicken and Snap Pea Stir Fry without Chicken or Snap Peas

First, select a recipe for which you have none of the ingredients. I selected Spicy Orange Chicken Stir Fry from This website has a weekly meal planner series called Dinner Rush which is a great resource when you need to come up with an answer to "What's for dinner?" (I also like's monthly meal planner. June's calender serves up daily salad recipes.)

Photo By: Elinor Carucci
Next, take stock of what you have and what you need. I had some of the ingredients but lacked the main ingredients, namely chicken and snap peas. I had a package of peas in the freezer but I had some English cucumber leftover from the previous night's meal. So I headed for the store to get some chicken for my renamed Spicy Orange Chicken and English Cucumber Stir Fry.

Easy enough, I thought.

I like to buy baked chicken from the deli because I don't know how to bake one myself. How hard could it be, to bake a chicken? Turn on oven, insert chicken, bake. It seems to take an inordinate amount of time and I always under-cook it. For five dollars, I can buy a whole baked chicken and someone else did all the work.

Usually, I will buy a whole baked chicken and cut it into its major parts, using what I need for a particular recipe and saving the rest for future meals. If I'm really energetic, I'll boil the bones and skin for stock. But such was not the case this night. I only wanted to buy a breast.

The deli only had fried, not baked, chicken parts so I sought out a whole one. The store was temporarily out of whole baked chickens so I headed for the meat case. (I was stir frying, not baking - I could manage to cook a breast in a skillet.)

The meat case had rows upon rows of chicken skewers but not a single chicken breast. I finally headed to the packaged meats in search of a single breast. I knew I wouldn't find it but I was only cooking for two so I was looking for the smallest package size available. I found one clever package that contained three separate pouches of chicken breasts so that you could open one and leave the other two pouches intact. The pouches either contained two breasts each or those breasts were enormous. In either case, even one pouch of the questionable chicken was too much for this meal.

Having completely struck out, I headed for the fish counter. I should have considered chicken thighs but I was so confounded by not being able to by a chicken breast that I didn't even think of it. How is it possible to walk into a major grocery chain store and not be able to buy "one of the most used meats in the world"?

Sea scallops struck my fancy so I purchased six of the mollusks and headed home to whisk together my Sea Scallop and English Cucumber Stir Fry. I purchased fresh Valencia oranges instead of the juice and I had leftover parsley and nuts at home.

Finally, we sat down to a delicious meal well worth the trouble: Spicy Valencia Sea Scallop and English Cucumber Stir Fry with Cashews and Parsley.

Next: How to Make Hamburgers without Ground Beef

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