December 4, 2009

Stir it Up

One of the first things I learned to cook, when I jumped out of the nest and went to college, was stir fry. It was a one-pan wonder, filled with healthy ingredients, and seemed to take little skill to master.  Or at least the recipe was simple enough to create a quick, warm, and edible meal.

It wasn’t until recently that I tasted some really fantastic, home-made stir fry (care of Boy’s Dad) which was whipped up in virtually minutes post Stanford v. Notre Dame game in a fit of excitement and hunger. Gerhart for Heisman. Stir fry for dinner.

Where as my past attempts at Chinese food usually resulted in a sauceless mixture of vegetables, chicken, and chili, this stir fry recipe has all the silky textures and muted spices that you would expect from a really good Chinese restaurant. Beyond all of that good stuff, Boy’s Dad also makes it sodium free. Low sodium Chinese food that tastes delicious? You’ll have to try it to believe it.


  • 2-4 boneless chicken thighs, depending on number of guests or how hungry you are (90 mg per 3oz serving)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 beer – something like Blue Moon with hints of fruit flavor
  • 2 tablespoons salt-free Chinese Five Spice
  • 1/2 cup of fresh Shitake mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of Chinese broccoli
  • 1/2 cup of diced bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup of green onion
  • a handful of sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil


1. Cut chicken thighs into strips. “But what size strip!” you say? Think about what size would be best for picking up with chop sticks and throwing directly into your mouth for eating pleasure. That’s the size you want.  Or about 1/4 of an inch thick.

2. Put the now “stripped” chicken thighs into a bowl with the Chinese Five Spice, a half can of beer, and the corn starch. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is coated. The corn starch will help adhere the spices to the chicken.

3. Heat a large wok or pan on the stove. After about a minute later, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil . To test if the oil is ready for cooking throw in one slice of onion or garlic – if the oil spits, it is time to get cooking.

4. Put the chicken (try to leave most of the sauce in the bowl) into the sizzling pan. Let the chicken cook for 8-10 minutes until it is almost done.

5. Put chicken back into the bowl with the sauce. It is okay, no health hazard here, you will be cooking them again in just a few short minutes.

6. Reheat the second tablespoon of sesame oil in the pan. When hot, throw in the garlic.

7. When the garlic is cooked and maybe a little crispy (like little delicious garlic chips – should take 2 minutes) put in the mushrooms, Chinese broccoli, half of your green onions, your bell peppers, and I (of course) threw in a few dried chili peppers for extra heat. If the veggies look a little dry, drizzle some extra sesame oil or orange juice (just a few teaspoons or so) to help them rehydrate.

8. Put the chicken and the sauce in with the rest of the ingredients and stir it up.

9. Before serving, give it a taste. If it needs more flavor, throw in a dash of white or black pepper, some paprika, maybe some ground mustard – give it a try to find your personal favorite. If the sauce has cooked down, add more of the beer and a few teaspoons of extra cornstarch.

10. To serve, ladle the stir fry and sauce into bowls with chop sticks and a spoon – you will want to drink up all that warm, soupy liquid – and sprinkle your leftover green onions on top for flare and flavor. As a surprise for guests, also drizzle some dark soy sauce on the very top. Only 55mg per tablespoon and you’ll hardly ever use that much.

Karen Barritt January 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

I’ve been looking for low sodium soy and thought I had found it but the ad on your link states that this product is 510 mg per tablespoon. Do you have other suggestions?

sodium girl January 6, 2010 at 8:25 am

How curious! The bottle I have at home says that it only contains 55mg per tablespoon but yes, the website definitely says 10 times that amount of sodium. This is an issue I have found with mislabeling and faulty nutrition facts. You just have to keep your eyes open and never stop checking. I will definitely be doing some investigating on this subject. I have found two homemade substitutions that I like that can be successfully used as a soy sauce base in other recipes. Expect a post tomorrow and thanks for catching this!

Denise February 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

The dark soy in Australia has over 1000mg of sodium per tablespoon (15ml) and I’ve read that some 20% of Asian made sauces contain carcinogens, according to a study in the UK. My kidneys will have to do without the foods of my childhood I’m afraid.

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