Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken

As a Chinese, the flak that our cuisine gets is sometimes quite off-putting. A lot of people equate Chinese food with the grimy grub that you get when you've just been laid off, that comes in a box etched with generic dragons and that you end with a cheesy line ripped from a preserved cookie. The truth is that Chinese food can be healthy... if you made it on your own.

One of my favourite dishes growing up was a hot-off-the-stove, just cooked Kung Pao chicken. It's a classic Szechuanese recipe, and that means a dish both spicy and sweet in flavour. This is a healthy recipe that leaves no oily residue on the sides of your mouth. I served this with some healthy quinoa and a broccoli stirfry.

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken
Makes 2 servings (about 300 cals each serving)
Prep time = 5 mins
Cook time = 10 mins
2 cups diced chicken breast or thighs
4 dried red chilis
1/2 tbsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts (or cashews)
1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Tsiao Shing wine

1 tsp corn flour
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup water

1 tbsp green onions, sliced
2 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro

1. Marinade chicken cubes in the marinade ingredients for 1/2 hour, or if you're in a rush, marinade for 10 minutes and massage chicken cubes with hands for about 5 minutes. Make sure you get the marinade into the chicken well.
2. Heat up 1.5 tbsp oil (you can use light olive oil) in a wok. As soon as it starts to smoke, toss in dried chilis and move the chilis around in the oil until it turns a little black. This should take about 1 -2 mins.
3. Toss in garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds and add chicken along with marinade.
4. The trick is to turn the heat down to somewhere between high and medium such that the chicken will smoke but not burn.
5. After about 3 minutes, add nuts and honey.
5. Stir-fry chicken until it is done (when flesh is no longer pink).
6. In a small bowl, combine ingredients for the sauce and stir until corn flour is dissolved.
7. Pour in sauce, turn off the heat and swish the chicken around in the sauce.
8. Add in the green onions and cilantro, give the wok another swish (Iron Chef style) to coat all the ingredients in sauce, add white pepper and dish out.

No comments: