Stir Fried Chicken with Cabbage, Carrots and Oyster Sauce

I have been trying and trying to come up with a recipe to use up the second half of the GINORMOUS head of cabbage purchased to use in my Saint Patrick’s Day Feast. I thought about making cabbage soup but it’s been a bit nicer out and I just haven’t been “feeling” soup. Cabbage is one of those ingredients I didn’t eat much of growing up and consequently don’t have much creativity in utilizing. Not yet anyway, I hope to remedy that. I was feeling resigned to making the cabbage soup because it would be very healthy and a good way to use up ingredients but when I stumbled upon the idea of putting it in a stir fry I started to actually feel excited. I guess it never occurred to me that when I order chicken with vegetables for take-out from a Chinese restaurant that the wilted, green vegetation mixed in could quite possibly be regular old green cabbage. I thought before that it must be bok choy or napa cabbage but a lot of the recipes I browsed through before making this called for regular old green cabbage. Yay!


This recipe that I based this off of called for snow peas, which I love, but didn’t have on hand. A similar recipe I had read called for carrots cut into match-sticks, which I DID have so I thought I would use those instead. You can use whatever floats your boat. Maybe a bit of each. The original recipe for this also called for using tofu. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with tofu. I used to live below a girl from Hong Kong and she was an amazing cook and made tofu for me a few times and it was delicious but I guess it’s just not something I’ve had a desired to learn much about on my own. She also made amazing wontons… One day. Anyway, another motive for this dish was to use up some boneless skinless chicken breast I had sitting in the fridge so chicken was subbed in for the tofu. Cook’s Illustrated has taught me a wonderful technique for treating chicken for stir fried dishes like this and it is called “velveting”. It is basically adding a bit of cornstarch to your marinade of soy sauce and sesame oil. The cornstarch (and sometimes a bit of flour as well) causes the marinade to cling to the meat during cooking, creating a barrier of protection, if you will, and slowing the rise in temperature that can happen dramatically in stir frying. It prevents the chicken (or pork) from turning dry, stringy and from shrinking up too much. It is a worthwhile step for sure. Besides these benefits, it always allows for a bit more of “crisp” surface, although you won’t really realize there is any starch on the outside of the meat when you’re eating it. I always wondered how these achieved this at Chinese restaurants and now I have a good way to replicate it for myself!

There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe but many of them are doubles. That is to say, things like soy sauce are used in many different parts of the recipe. So don’t be overwhelmed. And be sure to prep everything before you begin actually cooking the stir fry because that part will go very quickly. The prepping is the only part that takes some time and it’s really quite easy as well. This isn’t a heavy, overly salty stir fry which made me a happy girl. If you want, you can add more soy sauce to taste (I’m sure my boyfriend will) but I like it the way it is. And it’s quite healthy to boot. Not much fat other than a bit of sesame and vegetable oil used in the cooking process. I served mine with some steamed white rice.

To get nicely steamed white rice without any special equipment do the following:

  • Rinse 2 cups of white rice in a fine mesh sieve thoroughly under cool water
  • Add the drained rice and 2 1/2 cups water to a medium saucepan, heat over medium high until boil
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Remove from heat (leave lid on!), and allow to steam for 15 more minutes

That’s it! I didn’t figure I needed to make a whole separate recipe link for that below, it is pretty self-explanatory. Not too different from how I would normally cook rice, other than the shorter initial cooking time and then the steaming off the heat. This method is also from Cook’s Illustrated and worked wonderfully, resulting in nice fluffy rice. Be sure to rinse your rice before cooking or it will be too sticky and clumpy at the end.

Another little tid bit, to make matsticks out of carrots, peel them, cut of the tips of both ends and then cut them thinly along the bias to get oblong circles. Then fan these out, and cut them vertically to make matchsticks!



Stir Fried Chicken and Cabbage, Carrots and Oyster Sauce

(Adapted from “Stir-Fried Tofu, Snow Peas, and Cabbage with Oyster Sauce” in The Best International Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients for the Velveting Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Chinese rice cooking wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Ingredients for the Stir-Fry:

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 tsp. minced or grated ginger
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minces or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breast (about two), cut into evenly sized strips about ½ inch wide and 1-2 inches long
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into match-sticks
  • 1 lb. green cabbage (about ½ a medium head), cored and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, optional


  • Whisk the velveting ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the chicken strips and toss to coat. Refrigerate while preparing other ingredients (10-20 minutes)



  • In a medium bowl or measuring glass, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside
  • For the stir-fry: whisk the soy sauce, sugar and broth together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate small bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, scallions and 1 tsp. of the vegetable oil together and set aside
Sauces and chicken prepped and read to go! Time to cook!

Sauces and chicken prepped and read to go! Time to cook!


  • Heat 1 ½ tbsp. vegetable oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just smoking
  • Add half of the chicken and cook, about 3 minutes per side, until lightly browned



  • Transfer the chicken to a medium bowl and repeat with 1 ½ tbsp. vegetable oil and the remaining chicken
  • Return all of the chicken to the skillet, add the soy sauce/sugar/broth mixture and cook until the chicken is nicely glazed, about 3-4 minutes



  • Transfer the glazed chicken back to the bowl and cover with foil and set aside



  • Rinse and dry the skillet
  • Add the remaining 2 tsp. vegetable oil to the skillet and return to high heat until just smoking
  • Add the carrots and cabbage, tossing to mix and cook until the carrots are tender-crisp and the cabbage has begun to wilt (and shrink in volume) about 3-5 minutes
It will seem like there is a lot in your skillet at first but it will shrink up a bit...

It will seem like there is a lot in your skillet at first but it will shrink up a bit…



  • Clear the center of the skillet, add the ginger mixture and cook, mashing the mixture into the pan, until fragrant about 30  seconds



  • Stir the ginger mixture into the vegetables
  • Return the chicken to the skillet
  • Whisk the sauce to recombine and then add it to the skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 1 minute



  • Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using) and serve



8 responses to “Stir Fried Chicken with Cabbage, Carrots and Oyster Sauce

    • Thanks! Yes, now that I’m starting to have ingredients on-hand for Asian recipes I’m really enjoying making and eating them at home!

  1. Thanks for this one Jess. I’ve been wondering what to do with the rest of my 200 pounds of cabbage too — at least it feels that heavy, and I do love stir fry, so I’ll hang on to some of the chicken I’m planning to roast tomorrow to go with today’s veggies, and stir fry it. I always used bok choy in the past too, just never thought about plain old cabbage, and really am no longer in the mood for soup with the weather warming up. I’ll probably still have to freeze part of my cabbage because it’s big enough to feed an army. And it was the smallest one in the bin.

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