Archive for the ‘Chinatown NYC’ Category

Kung Pao Chicken

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

kungpaochicken

Some things are so tasty that people you know demand that you make them over and over again. This is one of them. Both a Chinese-American standby and a classic Sichuanese dish, the Americanized version tends toward the gloppy, sugary and watery, while the real deal is an architecture of flavor constructed around spicy chilis, numbing but floral Sichuan peppercorns, nutty fried peanuts, and tangy marinated chicken flavored with garlic and scallion. My version is close to the real deal but a bit non-traditional, with celery, chilis de arbol, and cilantro. Have with beers — especially if you use the Sichuan peppercorns, steer clear of wine. When half your tongue is numb, wine just tastes really wierd, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to happen with beer. This is not a complicated recipe but it does require some fussy sautéing at the last minute, so I recommend you mise-en-place just so you’re not chopping one thing while burning another. All of the more unusual ingredients are easily obtainable in a good Asian market, except for the Chilis de Arbol, which can be purchased here.

Kung Pao Chicken

Marinade:

2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp shaoxing cooking wine
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Sauce:

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing cooking wine
2 tbsp brown sugar

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in to 1 cm cubes
2 tbsp canola oil
15-20 whole dried chilis de arbol, chopped into 1 cm pieces
1 tsp-1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (start with fewer to see if you like them)
5 large stalks of celery, cut lengthwise in thirds, then into 1 cm pieces
4 cloves of garlic, chopped medium
4 scallions, green and roots removed, cut by slicing once diagonally, then rotating 120 degrees, then slicing, then repeat (the idea is to get thin angled slivers)
Deep fried salted peanuts (some Asian markets like New Kam Man on Canal St. have these housemade) or dry roasted salted peanuts
1 large handful cilantro, washed, dried, and chopped fine

Make the marinade in a medium bowl (I usually make the sauce at the same time in a separate container). Add the diced chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

If you haven’t already, make sauce by combining soy, shaoxing, and brown sugar. Stir well. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed skillet. When oil shimmers, add chilis and Sichuan peppercorns and agitate the pan for a few seconds until the oil colors and smells fragrant. Add celery and sauté until barely cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Remove celery and spices from pan and reserve. Try to leave as much oil behind in the pan as possible. Add chicken to pan and sauté until browned and cooked through. Add celery back to pan. Give the sauce another stir and pour over the chicken and celery. Add garlic. Cook for another minute until some of the moisture cooks off and the sauce gets a glossy look and coats the chicken. Turn heat off and add scallions and peanuts. Add salt to taste if necessary, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with plain rice. Serves about 4.

Bao

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

bao-001

This morning I got a wild craving for char siu bao, which are Chinese buns filled with barbecued roast pork and either steamed or baked. The baby and I headed into Chinatown, (where all the bakery ladies were very nice and made him smile), and we bought everything we could possibly want, including a scallion roll (no idea what’s in there), two baked char siu bao and one steamed, plus steamed Chinese sausage and combination bao. We’ll have them for dinner with some bok choi sauteed with ginger, and maybe some bad beers or vinho verde. I can’t wait!