Guest blog by Lachlan Astfalck
Hellloooooo! This is my first crack at making a little kitchen blog for the gym. Why am I doing this? Cooking is what I spend most of my time doing, and for the past couple of years through various phases from getting fit to punching beers I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to make healthy meals to achieve a macro goal that don’t taste like shit. I don’t like reductionist cooking where meals are simplified down to adding protein, carbs and fat together on a plate – chicken breast, brown rice, broccoli, and avocado is my worst idea of dinner.
Whilst I’m hating on things, I also hate food blogs that ramble for 20mins of reading before they give you the recipe. So, first thing’s first, the recipe, and then I’ll wax lyrical after. People like cooking different, some of you will burn toast regularly whilst some will be super familiar with almost all the techniques I mention. I’ve tried to scaffold the recipe so if you are the former then you can still make tasty dinner without too much fuss, and if you are the later then this is everything that I’d do at home or in a kitchen. If you want to ask me anything please hit me up!
Ingredients (this is for 2 portions at 40g-ish of protein a portion – scale to how many meals you want and how big you are):
- 400g chicken thighs
- 1 tbl baking soda (optional)
- 1 tbl Shaoxing cooking wine* (optional)
- 1 red capsicum
- 1 green capsicum
- 1 carrot
- 1 red onion
- ½ A bunch of spring onions
- Gai lan (or similar Asian greens)
- Some red chillies if you like it hawt
- 1 tbl garlic
- 2 tbl ginger
- 1 tbl cooking oil
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns*
- 10ish big dried red chillis chopped super rough
- 1 tbl doubanjiang* (do not omit, this is the heart of the dish)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce*
- 1 tsp five spice*
- There are a couple of odd ingredients but one trip to Yee Seng on your way home from the gym and 10 bucks will set you up – everything with an asterisk is literally in the same aisle.
- Please don’t omit things like sugar trying to be healthy – an extra 2g of sugar in your meal makes it twice as good and, well, it’s 2g of sugar, you’ll be fine.
- Buy jarred garlic and ginger. It’s a life saver for quicker meals.
- In the steps that follow, the lettered steps are optional (but highly recommended) steps to make food better. Sometimes I’ve written in italics when it’s hard to tack instructions on at the bottom.
- Please only stir fry this amount at a time. If you overcrowd your pan then you steam your food rather than fry it. Making more meals, do a couple of runs – it only takes 5 mins.
- Get everything out, chopped and ready to go (if you like wanker speak, this is called mise en place). Once the wok is on things move fast.
- You don’t have to measure everything. Get a small spoon and a big spoon and just go for it. When in doubt, more is more.
- Chop your chicken into 1-2cm cubes
- Throw the baking soda and the Shaoxing wine onto the chicken to sit for 30 mins. The Shaoxing seasons the chicken and the baking soda tenderises it for juicy morsels of joy.
- Chop up your veggies. A good tip when slicing for stir-fries is to make sure everything is about the same size. Capsicums get chopped in squares, carrots into thicc batons, onions into 1/8ths, spring onions and gai lan into 5cm bits.
- Get your wok or pan on the heat and get everything out ready to go.
- Get a saucepan of water boiling too. We’re going to do something called velveting which is the secret to getting that juicy takeout style meat. If you baking soda’d your chicken before rinse it off under the tap and leave to drain in a colander.
- Get ready because we’re about to cook, wok should be hot and water should be on a rolling boil next to it. Oil goes in the (already hot) wok. Then add the Sichuan for about 15 seconds and chopped dried chillis, then the doubanjiang for 30 seconds or so until it takes on a bit of colour, then garlic and ginger for another 30 seconds or until you can smell it. If you’re velveting your chicken, that goes in the boiling water now, if not chicken in the pan and give it a toss. Add capsicums, onion and chillies and give a tossy toss. If velveting, chicken comes out of the water with a slotted spoon, give a wee shake to get most the water off and in the wok with the veges. Tossy toss. Chuck in the springos and greens. Cook and toss for a couple of minutes to make sure everything is cooked (err on the side of undercooked here as the residual heat will carry on cooking). Add sugar, soy and five spice – the sugar as it heats will thicken the sauce and make it yum. Serve as is, or with rice and a fried egg (for some extra cals for the gainz).