Eating spicy foods, especially those made with chili pepper, might mean a longer and healthier life. So finds a recent study of nearly 500,000 Chinese men and women aged 30 to 79. Those who ate spicy meals at least once a week were 10% less likely to die over the next seven years compared with those who rarely ate spicy foods. Those who ate spicy nearly every night were 14% less likely to die over that same period.
To turn statistics into delicious reality, we turned to Grace Young, the Stir Fry Guru and author of three books about Chinese cooking. She suggested a five-minute stir-fry using sriracha, the popular chili pepper–based condiment.
Start slow with the spicy heat, she suggests. You can always add heat to a dish, but it’s tougher to take it away. Says Young, “This stir-fry is mildly spicy. If you like extra heat, increase the sriracha sauce to two to three tablespoons.” Don’t have Shanghai bok choy—often called baby bok choy—in your market? If you can find Napa cabbage, that’s an excellent substitute, she suggests—just cut it crosswise into half-inch-wide pieces. One key tip: Don’t stir-fry the chicken right away. “It’s critical to resist stirring for the first minute,” says Young. “Allowing the chicken to begin to sear prevents sticking in the wok.”
LONGEVITY SRIRACHA STIR FRY
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into ¼-inch–thick bite-sized slices
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons plus 1 Tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
⅓ cup fat-free chicken broth
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 Tablespoon sriracha
4 ounces Shanghai bok choy
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch wide slices (about 1 cup)
1 medium ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges (about 1 cup)
¼ teaspoon table salt
⅛ teaspoon sugar
1. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, 1 Tablespoon of sherry, 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce, ginger and cornstarch. Stir until cornstarch is no longer visible. Stir in 1 teaspoon of oil. In a small bowl, combine broth, ketchup, sriracha, remaining 1 Tablespoon sherry and 1 Tablespoon soy sauce. Trim ⅛-inch from bok choy stems. Cut stems into 1-inch pieces and leaves into 2-inch pieces to yield about 2 cups.
2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within 1 or 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 Tablespoon of oil. Add chicken and spread evenly in one layer in wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting chicken begin to sear. Stir-fry 1 minute until chicken is no longer pink but not cooked through.
3. Swirl in remaining 2 teaspoons oil, add bell pepper, tomatoes, bok choy, salt and sugar, and stir-fry 1 minute or until just combined with chicken. Swirl sauce into wok and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and peppers and bok choy are tender-crisp.
Yields 4 servings (1 cup per serving)