Chinese Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry over Quinoa

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The trick to a stir-fry is getting the pan screaming hot so that when you add the chicken and the eggplant there’s plenty of built-up heat to brown them evenly.

NotesCooking quinoa Dave’s way:

Raw, unprocessed quinoa is naturally coated with saponins, a substance that is bitter, difficult to digest, and makes for soapy cooking water, so quinoa has to be washed before it can be cooked. But today it is rare to find quinoa in the market that isn’t washed. Many packages of quinoa will be marked “prewashed” or “rinsed,” but even quinoa that you can buy in bulk is generally prewashed, so you can skip that step and go right to the cooking. If you’re worried about it, though, give the quinoa a quick rinse anyway.

Now when it comes to cooking the quinoa, never go by the directions on the package. Most directions that you will come across say to cook the quinoa with water in a ratio of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. But this results in quinoa that is much too wet and; soggy. Quinoa should have the texture of couscous-dry, light, and fluffy. To achieve this result, cook quinoa in a ratio of 1 part quinoa to only 1¼ parts water.

Combine the quinoa and water in a heavy-bottomed pot ;(to avoid browning or drying of quinoa on the bottom of the pot) and season with a couple pinches of salt. Bring the quinoa and water to a simmer, reduce the heat to its lowest setting, and cover the pot. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the quinoa is dry, light, and can easily be fluffed with a fork. Fluff well and let sit, uncovered, for a few minutes before serving or using in a recipe.


Cooking Methodsteaming, stir-frying



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, tree nut free

Equipmentsteamer, wok


Taste and Texturechewy, crisp, spiced


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into ½-inch strips
  • 1 medium Japanese eggplant, ends trimmed and sliced about ½ inch thick
  • 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • One 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa(see Notes)


  1. Combine the chicken, eggplant, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, brown sugar, vinegar, allspice, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

  2. In a steamer basket or makeshift steamer, steam the broccoli, bell pepper, onion, and carrot until al dente. Heat a dry cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet or wok over high heat for about 4 minutes. Saute the marinated ingredients until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Toss in the steamed veggies and water chestnuts and cook for a couple minutes longer to heat through. Serve over the cooked quinoa.

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