Thursday, February 7, 2008

Happy Year of the Rat!

It's Chinese New Years today, and since the awesome local asian grocery is closed and I can't get the ingredients to whip up some Chinese food, I thought I'd post a recipe I've been working on.

For the sake of clarity, I'll call it Kung Pao Chicken, but its inspiration lies in "chicken in chili sauce," a bastardization of the Sichuan "Gong Bao Ji Ding" dish which is pretty ubiquitous in small Beijing restaurants. It's sweeter than anything that comes close to authentic Sichuan, but unless you're begging for a tastebud beatdown that will leave your eyes and nose flowing free that's no bad thing. I've tried to get the recipe as close to as I remember the dish in Beijing, but I tend to add more veggies than it usually came with.

Please note that all ingredient amounts are very approximate. There are lots of dash's of this and "to taste's" of that. Sorry, that's just how I roll.

Niedermeyer's Famous Kung Pao Chicken

Chop as much chicken as you want to make into small chunks. I don't have a huge wok or a gas range, so I typically do 2/3 breasts and I've found that small chunks work better than thin strips in this recipe. Most recipes tell you to marinate the chicken in a cornstarch/water mixture, but I never do with this recipe. Since this is the "prep" stage, chop up any of the following that you have around:
*Green Onions- chopped fine- minimum two, maximum ten. Look for the giant ones at your local asian market and use them in big chunks.
*Fresh Ginger- chopped fine- just a tiny chunk at most (the size of a bottle cap). Don't let it overpower the dish, and don't bother with the powder stuff.
*Garlic- chopped fine- a clove or two (one teaspoon?)
*Yellow/Red Onion- quartered- you can throw in a whole one or leave it out.
*Bell Pepper- chunked any size you like- best with one red, one yellow if you feel like getting extravagant.
*Bamboo shoots- chopped and rinsed well
*You can add any other veggies you want, but then you're on your own. Punk.

Here's what else you need.
*Dried Chinese Red Peppers
*Sichuan Peppercorns - These can be hard to find, because their importation was banned until '05, but you can find them at good asian markets. Mine came in an unmarked bag, and I had to dig around to find them. They are totally necessary for this dish though and if you like to cook they are a fun flavor to play with.
*Chili Bean Sauce. I use this brand.
*Hoisin Sauce.
*Chinese 5-Spice. Just a tiny bit, and even that isn't 100% necesssary.
*Oil. I use canola, but peanut is a little more authentic I think.
*Chinese cooking wine.

First, find your wok and wok this way (wok-a wok-a). Ok, sorry... that was wiggity-wok. Damn!

Throw a few teaspoons of oil in there. Enough to cook the chicken quickly, but not deep-fry it. Turn your heat up and throw in 2-12 dried peppers and 1-3 teaspoon of peppercorns and let them fry until they sizzle, then take them out and set them aside.
Make sure the oil is really hot, then throw the chicken in. Cook it hot, cook it fast.
When the chicken is done, get rid of excess oil in the wok. You want about a tablespoon left.
Throw in garlic, ginger, onion, green onion (leave some for garnish!) a teaspoon or so of chili bean sauce, and a dash of cooking wine and stir fry with the chicken.
Add a bunch more Chili Bean sauce, the fried dried chilis and about a teaspoon of Hoisin. Throw in enough sugar to just take the salty edge off the the Chili Bean flavor. This obviously depends on how much Chili Bean sauce you use, but a tablespoon or two should do it. I also throw in a tiny bit of ground peppercorn here, with a dash of 5-spice, but be careful as they can easily overpower.
Throw in the rest of your veggies and stir fry until done.

Serve with rice. Gong Hay Fat Choy!

1 comment:

AmbivalentMonk said...

Apparently Kung Pao means something to do with peanuts.
So you should put some in there...because I love peanuts in anything.
Gong hay fat choy!