November 04, 2006

A delish dish

Now that the weather has turned colder, and Iím spending more time indoors, Iíve been wanting to cook a lot. Now I donít post all that I cook because I donít want: (a) to make people jelaous, and (b) to seem more of an over-achiever than I really am, unlike other folks ; )

But this time I will, if only to help a blog-bro out. In his latest post, Gebiv, tells how disappointed he was in the Kung Po chicken he was given at his favorite Chinese restaurant that is under new mgt. Well, if youíd really like to give it a try itís not really that difficult. I think youíll have a tougher time finding all the ingredients in your local supermarket than making this dish.

A little history though, before I start. This dish in China is really called ďGong BaoĒ. In the U.S. you can find this dish under the name of: Kung Po, Kung Pao and Kung Pow. You can make this dish with beef, shrimp or with Chicken. Iíve included the Chicken recipe and have cut it down from the 8 servings I used to make for my friends to 2. Iíve also indicated some alternative ingredients in the list.

Now, I know that when you at the list of ingredients youíll probably say to yourself thatís an awful lot of stuff to buy for one dish. Well, the good news is that Iíll begin posting some of the Asian recipes that I learned to cook while living overseas so that you can use up those ingredients, because they are the staples of Asian cooking.

A word to the lazy and calorie conscious (I'm not linking you 'cause you know who you are) out there (lol!), this dish takes from prep to finished product about 45 min. and it is NOT low cal. If you tried doing that with dish youíd eliminate the flavor so donít even try it.

Chinese Cooking lesson note:
Marinades are the corner stone of Asian cooking. And just like medicine if you think that by doubling the time it will work better or faster youíre wrong. If the recipe says to marinade for x amount of time do just that and not too much more. Otherwise, as been my experience you wind up with disastrous results.

Kung Pao Chicken
Original recipe by Wolfgang Puck was modified by me.

1 tablespoon rice wine ( for a stronger flavor try sherry)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon chinese low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
In a large non-reactive bowl (porcelain or glass), prepare the marinade. Combine the rice wine, peanut oil, soy sauce, salt and cornstarch and stir well to blend all the ingredients. Add the chicken pieces and let sit for 30 minutes max. Meantime, prepare the sauce below.

Sauce: 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine (for bolder taste try sherry)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (don't try any other vinegars it won't taste right)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside for a few minutes.

Ingredients for the wok:
Make sure all these ingredients are prepped (in small bowls or cups) and ready to be thrown in the pot before starting this part of the recipe.
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 - 4 dried red chiles remove stems and cut in halves (before adding it all consider who you're cooking for: do they love fiery hot or just kissably spicy? Adjust accordingly)
1/2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and sliced either thinly
1 whole garlic, smashed (about 6-8 cloves) Unsure of amount? start with less then add more
1/4 cup deep-fried peanuts (or cashews)
2 tablespoons chicken stock plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed together well.
1 green onion (called scallions), cut the white part into 1/2 -inch pieces, julienne the green parts in a diagonal pattern (these are for garnish)

Over high heat, preferably in a wok, bring peanut oil to almost smoking temperature. Stir-fry the chilies, ginger, garlic and white part of the green onions for 30 to 40 seconds, or until the chilies turn slightly dark. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden in color.

Add the sauce to the cooking pot and bring to a boil. Add the peanuts. chicken sstock and continue to cook until glossy. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the julienned green onions.

If you're cooking for someone special, order romantic fotune cookies to make the meal incredibly unique. She/he will never order Kung Pao Chicken without thinking of you ever again!

Posted by Michele at November 4, 2006 11:25 AM

At the moment, I won't be able to make any wok dishes (boo) because I have one of those flat electic stovetops - I HATE it with a passion and it certainly won't work for a wok.

Maybe next summer when the weather is warmer again, I can cook it out on the side burner of my grill - that would be a good place. But for the winter - it would be too cold. *sigh*

Sounds like a great recipe though.

Posted by: Teresa at November 4, 2006 05:47 PM

Uymm... Will definitely keep this one in mind for the near future.

Posted by: Tink at November 5, 2006 11:18 AM

Mmmmm. I love good kung pao. Gotta try this as soon as I can.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at November 5, 2006 07:44 PM

I'm so proud to be lazy. Seriously. What a nice word. Lazy. Even hearing it makes me want to curl up with a book. Contrast it with the abrupt-sounding "work." Lazy rules.

Posted by: zonker at November 5, 2006 11:56 PM

Man. I wish I wasn't so lazy myself. But a decided lack of good kung po in the restaurants nearby may drive me to.... *sob* ...cook.

Posted by: GEBIV at November 9, 2006 11:41 PM