I love creating the many family recipes I grew up with on a regular basis, but I also love experiencing the tried and true recipes from other people’s families. It’s fun to learn about the flavour combinations and food traditions they enjoy, and then find ways to incorporate them into my own cooking repertoire. Bonus points when they are simple to make and use common ingredients!
Way back when I finished university, I picked up and moved to Australia for 6 months, where I lived with a local family. Eating in Australia wasn’t too much of a culture shock, but I did have to learn some of the lingo. While I was there, I learned what a sausage sizzle was, the proper way to eat Vegemite, how to perfectly cube a mango, and that “tasty cheese” is in fact just a medium cheddar cheese. I made sure to share some culinary tidbits with them as well – like the fact that peanut butter is delicious with jam (turns out many Australians don’t eat peanut butter with sweet things).
As a temporary member of my host family, I enjoyed family dinners with them. One of my favourites that they made often was a simple chicken stir-fry with carrots and celery topped with almonds and mandarin oranges. I don’t know that it was particularly Australian, but that doesn’t matter. I loved the bright, fresh flavours, and it was a real crowd pleaser. I watched my “Aussie mum” make it so many times that I took the reins making it for the family on a few occasions. While I’ve done a little adapting from the original recipe, it is something I still continue to make and enjoy to this day!
Mandarin Orange & Almond Chicken Stir-fry
- 1 can (11 oz or 312 g) mandarin oranges packed in juice, drained and juice reserved
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tsp chicken bouillon
- 1 – 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3/4 cup blanched whole almonds
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, corn starch, bouillon, sugar, and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the almonds and toast until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the oil to the pan, then add the onion and garlic. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add carrots and celery to the pan, and continue to stir fry for 2-5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are cooked but crisp. Add the almonds back to pan.
- Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the sauce mixture, and cook until thickened.
- Serve over rice, quinoa, or noodles, topped with the mandarin orange slices and sesame seeds.
Note: Don’t add the mandarin oranges until serving, otherwise they will fall apart in the stir-fry!
About Marianne Bloudoff
Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now, instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.