Food and Drink

A pantry-forward dish great for weeknights, this chicken stir-fry is packed with heat and flavor

Whether seared in a hot wok or a stove-top skillet, this pantry-forward dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes. Fragrant Sichuan peppercorns (available online and at the Anchorage-based Spice and Tea Exchange) and dried chiles add depth of flavor and heat, but a generous amount of freshly ground white or black pepper will work in a pinch. Vegetables and chicken get a velvety finishing sauce thanks to a bit of cornstarch, which acts as both a tenderizer and binder. Serve with steamed rice or noodles and a pile of fresh herbs. Pile leftovers onto a sandwich or use as a filling for an omelet or quesadilla.

Spicy chicken stir-fry

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chile paste) or other favorite chile paste

1 tablespoon rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces


To assemble:

Vegetables (about 2 cups total), such as zucchini, asparagus, onion, carrot, celery, bok choy or Napa cabbage, cut into similar-sized pieces

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons oyster sauce or hoisin

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or thinly sliced)

2 to 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 to 3 tablespoons peanut oil or grapeseed or avocado oil

1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns or 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black or white pepper

3 to 4 small dried red chiles (optional)

3 green onions, trimmed, white and green parts cut into thirds lengthwise

1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or walnuts, coarsely chopped

For serving, steamed rice or noodles and fresh basil and cilantro

• For the marinade: In a medium bowl, stir together soy sauce, gochujang, vinegar, cornstarch and 2 tablespoons warm water. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat chicken; set aside at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes while prepping rest of dish.

• Prep vegetables; set aside. In a small bowl, make sauce: stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch, ginger and garlic until smooth; set aside. Make sure you have all ingredients, including reserved marinated chicken, vegetables and sauce, ready to go and nearby. Make sure to open a window or other means of good ventilation as you cook the chiles and peppercorns in hot oil.


• Heat oil in a large hot wok or skillet set over medium-high to high heat. When oil is shimmering, add peppercorns (if using ground white or black pepper, add after the chicken), and dried chiles and cook quickly, stirring constantly, so as not to burn ingredients, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly until chicken is no longer pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add vegetables and cook with chicken, tossing and stirring, until vegetables start to get golden and wilt, another 3 to 4 minutes. When chicken is cooked through, add sauce and stir another minute or so. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding some salt or pepper or vinegar, as needed. Add green onions and nuts and stir to coat. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with hot rice or noodles.

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Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit