Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken (Revisited)

There are points in time when you realize you've become a cooking snob. Oh how far I've come from the days when Hamburger Helper was probably the height of what I would cook. Two things today make me feel a bit ... different. First, while discussing bourbon pumpkin cheesecake at work and how I'd like to try it, assuming everyone knew I was talking about a recipe (especially after mentioning Smitten Kitchen) and not a local bakery (for the record, I'll happily make this and share if someone wants to bring me 2 tbsp bourbon ... sadly that's what's stopping me atm!). Second, looking at a recipe in a Chinese cookbook I have and thinking to myself ... and the best part of this recipe is it's things you usually have on hand. Since when are 2 types of soy sauce, rice wine, dried chiles, and sesame oil things people usually have on hand? Right ...

On to the recipe changes ... I omitted the Sichuan pepper because I didn't feel like going on a hunt and my red chiles were Thai, not Sichuan. Other than that, I stuck faithfully to the recipe. For a more Americanized version of Kung Pao chicken, try this one. This version is a little less sweet and more spicy (although I might've been heavy handed with the chiles).

One year ago today: Carnitas with Ninfa's Green Sauce

Kung Pao Chicken (adapted from Land of Plenty)

2 boneless chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic
2 inches ginger (or so, about the same amount as garlic)
5 scallions, white parts only
2 tbsp peanut oil
generous handful of dried red chiles (I should've maybe done slightly less generous)
2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine
2 1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
3 tsp sugar
1 1/8 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
3 tsp black Chinese vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp water

1. Cut the chicken into 1/2 inch strips, then cut these into small cubes. Place in small bowl and mix in marinade ingredients.
2. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger. Chop scallions into chunks as long as their diameter.
3. Snip chiles in half or into 2-inch sections. Discard as many seeds as possible.
4. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
5. Heat oil in a wok over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chiles and stir-fry until they are crisp and oil is spicy and fragrant (I took starting to cough when inhaling the fumes coming off the wok as a sign of fragrance).
6. Add the chicken and fry, stirring constantly.
7. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic and scallions and continue to stir-fry until fragrant and the meat is cooked through.
8. Stir the sauce and add it to the wok, continuing to stir and toss.
9. As soon as the sauce is thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir in, and serve.

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