Friday, May 2, 2008

Delicious Kung Pao Chicken (宫爆鸡丁)

Lucky us - we have so many choices when looking for a recipe. But how do you know which to choose?

When I need a recipe I start online with a basic Google search. I'll run a food blog search, too, if the Google search seems inadequate but Google does a decent job of picking up recipes from food blogs. Open several browser tabs with a different recipe in each and skim them. I immediately make cuts based on the ingredients or how convoluted they sound, or if it's immediately apparent that the recipe author hasn't a clue about what they're doing.

In the case of searching for recipe for Kung Pao I read 10 or so recipes. I immediately closed out recipes that called for powdered ginger and carrots since neither have a place here. I also jettisoned a few that called for marinating the chicken. Really? you're thinking. What could possibly be bad about a marinade? Nothing. I just find I don't tend to cook recipes where I have to make both a marinade and a sauce. I prefer to sauté the chicken with lots of garlic and ginger and let flavors infuse that way. Also, it takes time and I wanted a quicker recipe.

The last few were discredited for listing water as a sauce ingredient or for calling for just a few teaspoons of liquids for the sauce. I like to have lots of sauce to drizzle on my rice. Plus, I'm still getting used to cooking on my carbon steel wok from Chinatown. It seems a bit thirsty and sauces dissipate quickly. I can almost hear the water sauce recipe author shouting, "I told you that you needed water to compensate for the heat of the wok!"

In the end I chose a recipe that I had stashed in my cookbook from a 2002 Food and Wine magazine. I also like Rasa Malaysias recipes, but in this case she calls for Shaoxing wine as an ingredient and I have been unable to procure it. Shaoxing wine is a Chinese rice wine. In the past I have substituted mirin or dry sherry or a combination, but I want to find the real thing. I'll have to get help next time I'm in Chinatown.

Kung Pao Chicken (宫爆鸡丁)
Print recipe only here

Serves 4

Mix together in a small bowl:

* ½ cup orange juice
* ¼ cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
* ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
* 1 T sugar
* 2 t cornstarch

Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized chunks, pat dry and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Reserve.

In a wok or large skillet heat:

* 1 T canola oil

Add to the wok and sauté:

* 8 small dried red chilis, or 2-3 t chili flakes
* 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
* 2 T fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated

Add the chicken to the wok and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until browned all over. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Add 1 T canola oil to the wok and heat. When hot add:

* ½ red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
* ½ green bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
* 1 small onion, halved and sliced crosswise

When the peppers have softened (allow about 5 minutes cooking time), add the chicken back to the wok and stir to combine. Heat thru and cook everything together for a few minutes.

Add the sauce to the pan and cook until thickened, another minute or two. Stir in:

* ½ cup roasted peanuts or cashews
* 1 t sesame oil

Taste for seasoning and serve with basmati or other long-grain rice.


Thistlemoon said...

Sounds really yummy! I am like you, I like a lot of sauce.

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

Katie Fairbank said...

Thanks for visiting, Jenn. Happy saucy chicken and foodie blogging to you.

Kate Jaquet said...

my husband LOVED your Kung Pao rx so much he found himself randomly and enthusiastically saying "Kung Pao!" for days afterwards. i guess i'll make it again soon. ;-)