When Grandma traveled in Asia, she loved the lively little dishes served in outdoor markets. The trio of spring onion, garlic and root ginger is the classic seasoning for innumerable Asian dishes, whether or not to pick them up with chili pepper is the cook’s choice.

Serves 2
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Small bunch of Thai basil or coriander
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 spring onions, sliced with the green tops
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Walnut-sized piece of fresh root ginger, chopped
1 small green or red chili, cored, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce, more to taste
3 tablespoons rice wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1. Cut the chicken breasts into 6-mm/¼-inch slices, across the grain of the meat. Pull basil or coriander leaves from the stems and shred the leaves.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or deep frying pan over high heat. Add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chili if you are using it, and stir fry them, tossing and turning vigorously. Cook them just until fragrant, about 1 minute, and do not let them brown. Stir in the chicken and stir fry just until white, ½-1 minute. Stir in the soy sauce, followed by the rice wine and sugar. Note that brisk frying and stirring so the ingredients cook evenly is important.

3. Lower the heat to medium – now you can relax a bit. Simmer the chicken, stirring and tossing often, until it is very tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and basil or coriander, taste for seasoning, and serve at once.