Spring Stir-Fry: Chicken, Radish & Green Garlic

I’m always on the lookout for interesting radish recipes.  Radishes are one of the first things to show up in the farmer’s market in spring that is not a leek, squash, potato or leafy green, hence, I always pick some up (look! they’re pink! crisp! new!) and then, after about three fresh salads with sliced raw radishes, wonder what I’m going to do with the other dozen pink wonders.

I was a bit suspicious of stir-fried radish, but this dish was a nice surprise; tangy from the lime, a bit of nice spice from the chile pepper, the peppery bite of cliantro and crisp crunch of radish.  All in all, quite yummy and a nice harbinger of fresh, crispy, non-squash-and-potato vegetables to come.

Adapted from Stir-Fried Chicken, Radishes, Chipotles, and Lime, Bon Appetit, April 2001.

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Chicken, Radish & Green Garlic Stir-Fry

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch dice

    Shiny!

    Shiny!

  • 4 tbsp lime juice, separated
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt, separated
  • 2 tsp dried, crushed chile pepper (red pepper flakes)
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 medium stalk fresh/green garlic (about 1/2 cup packed), cleaned well, and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 9 medium radishes (5 and 1/2 oz trimmed), trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

METHODS

  1. Mix about 2 tbsp lime juice, crushed chile pepper and 1/4 tsp sea salt in a medium bowl.  Add chicken chunks and toss to coat chicken.  Set aside.
  2. Halve radishes and slice thinly; transfer to a bowl of cool filtered water to which you’ve added 1/2 tsp sea salt.
  3. Set a colander over a large bowl (sized to hold the chicken and radishes). Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to the hot skillet and fry, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes; the chicken will not brown, due to the residual moisture from the marinade.  Stir in the green garlic, chicken broth and the remainder of the lime/chile marinade.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook for another 3 minutes.  Uncover and stir rapidly until the chicken is cooked through (break a piece in half and check that inside is white with no hint of pink).  With a clean slotted spoon (do not use, or wash in hot soapy water, the one that touched the raw chicken) transfer the chicken to the colander.  Cover to keep warm.
  4. Add the radishes and another 1 tbsp of lime juice to the skillet over high heat.  Cook until just warmed through, about 30-45 seconds; you want the sauce to pick up some radish flavor, but for the radishes to retain some crispness. Transfer with the slotted spoon to the colander.
  5. Add the last 1 tbsp of lime juice, any marinade from the bowl under the colander, and 1 tsp of cornstarch to the skillet.  Stir vigorously to incorporate the cornstarch, scrape up any browned bits and reduce the sauce over high heat until it thickens (add more lime juice or chicken stock if your cornstarch remains lumpy).
  6. Transfer the chicken mixture to the large bowl, add reduced sauce and cilantro.  Toss to combine, taste, and adjust seasonings. Serve with whole wheat tortillas, rice or on top of fresh baby lettuce leaves.

OPTIONS

  1. Green, or fresh, garlic, looks like a leek, only smaller, or sometimes a fat scallion, with a bit of purple at the bulb end (depending on the variety of garlic).  Like leeks, they are a dirty crop, and need to be sliced in half and well washed before slicing.  Unlike leeks, they have a distinct garlic smell, but a milder garlic flavor than garlic scapes or the more typical bulb.  Ask around at your local farmer’s market; if you can’t find green garlic, try substituting 4 scallions (white & pale green parts only; reserve dark green parts for garnish) and 1 minced garlic clove.
  2. Sugar snap or snow peas, as well as pea shoots, would work nicely with this dish.
  3. For a vegetarian stir-fry, try this with firm, baby red potatoes, sliced in half, and vegetable stock.
  4. It would be hard to make this dish completely local; I do think oil is the best to stir-fry in (although you could try ghee or clarified butter) but really, the lime is an absolute necessity.  I know I’ve been a bit citrus crazy lately, but hey, it’s been months and months since any fresh fruit other than an apple.  I blame the scurvy.

STORE

Refrigerated up to 5 days.

SEASON

Radishes are a cool weather crop and most abundant in Spring although they appear in Fall; green garlic is generally only available in Spring.

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