During the first few days of being together, Grace and I ended up on a spontaneous road trip that included dinner at a friend-of-a-friend’s-mom’s house (got that?). She served what she called Sticky Chicken, small pieces of chicken coated with a very glossy glaze. Based on Chinese stir-frying traditions, it’s such a flavorful dish that comes together quickly thanks to a host of pantry ingredients. Each time I make it, I’m taken back to those very early, exciting days of our relationship when it felt like a light switch I didn’t know about got flipped on, like everything finally made so much sense. While I can’t promise all of that with this recipe, I share it with all the joy that comes with the memory. Serve with rice or noodles or steamed bok choy or broccoli or roasted sweet potatoes or stir-fried snap peas . . . the list goes on.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup [60 ml] ketchup
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (such as sambal), or your favorite hot sauce (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons canola oil (or other neutral oil such as vegetable), plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 pounds [680 g] boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir well to combine. Stir in the ketchup, honey, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce (if using), and garlic.
- Reserve the sauce.
- Place the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add half of the chicken to the pan and season generously with salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each) and cook, stirring now and then, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat the process, adding another tablespoon or so of oil to the pan if necessary, with the rest of the chicken.
- Return the first batch of chicken to the skillet along with the reserved sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring now and then, until the sauce is thick and coats the chicken, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.