Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kung Pao

Last night I made Kung Pao Chicken for the first time in a long long time. I forgot to take pictures, but thought I would post the recipe since it has everything that you need for a simple weeknight meal. Its simple, tasty, and makes great leftovers.

Start by getting your rice ready. If you don't own a rice cooker, get one. If you're Asian and don't own a rice cooker, shame on you.

Next, put together the sauces you will need:
1. 2T soy/2T water/2t corn starch.
2. 1T soy/1T white or rice vinegar/1T cooking wine/3T water/.5 T sesame oil/1T sugar

If you are making this with chicken, take two chicken breasts and pound them out until they are about 1.5 cm thick. If you don't have a mallet, a heavy jar or small pot works well (be sure to sandwich the chicken between sheets of plastic wrap). Dice the chicken into small squares and marinate in the first sauce. You can substitute extra firm tofu for chicken. It will be great.

Dice three stalks of celery. To do this, make one cut down the middle and then cut across so the celery is cut into a rough dice (about the size of the peanuts).

Dice one-half red bell pepper into similar sized chunks. The dish typically does not include bell pepper, but I like the color it adds. It tastes good too.

Mince about 1/4 inch of ginger.

Slice up about 4 scallions.

Start by cooking the chicken in a very hot wok with the ginger and a couple tablespoons of oil. After a couple of minutes, remove the chicken, drain all but 1T of oil and add a handful of dried red peppers to the wok. Before adding the peppers, break them in half and discard the seeds. How much you use is up to you. I put in about 20 or 30 peppers and it was hottttttt. I would recommend 10. Cook the peppers for a few seconds, then add the celery, red bell pepper, and scallions. Make sure to have the fan on high. Cooking hot peppers can make you cough a lot, so you want to clear out the air as soon as possible. After another couple of minutes, add the second sauce, 1/2 cup of unsalted peanuts, and the chicken. Let the sauce cook down over high heat, stirring often. Once the sauce thickens up, you're done.

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