Thursday, February 19, 2009

Food: Mama's Easy Kung Pow

This is my man's favorite dish, and whenever I make it, he gets all glowy with the knowledge that he is loved. Though it might be the red pepper...
1 lb. Lean Chicken, cubed (the picture doesn't show 'cubed' - please forgive me.)
2 Carrots, cubed (or close to cubed)
2 Bell Peppers, one red, cubed
1 Large Onion, cubed
2 Pieces Celery, sliced
4-5 Cloves Garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp. Corn Starch
Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
3 Tbsp. Black Bean Paste (or equivalent)
2 Tbsp. Red Chili Paste (like sambal or sriracha)
2-3 Tbsp. Natural Peanut Butter (If you only have the Jiff-type, skip the sugar later)
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
Soy Sauce to taste (probably a couple of tsp.)
1 Cup (approximately) Dry Roasted Peanuts (Half Crushed)
1 Tsp. Orange Zest, plus a couple tablespoons Orange Juice
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine, or Cooking Wine

Got it? Good. Let's Begin:
First: In your wok (if you don't have one, they can be had pretty cheap at Target or Wal-Mart), fry the carrots in a little vegetable oil for 3 - 7 minutes - enough time to soften them, but not fully cook them. Set Aside.
carrots cooking in the wok:

2. Princess the chicken. This is done by placing the chicken in a smallish bowl and coating each piece with corn starch.
Princessed Chicken:

Fry the chicken in small batches in your wok using a little more oil and one tablespoon of the sesame oil until each piece is golden. Set aside. (You'll want the exhaust fan going while you do this)
3. Add a little more oil and the other tablespoon of sesame oil to your wok. Over medium heat, fry the garlic for about 3 minutes, but don't let it burn. Add: Peanut Butter, Chili Paste, Black Bean Paste, Orange Zest (but not the juice), Brown Sugar, and half of the Peanuts. Cook until incorporated, and you notice the glorious scent.
If you can't make it to your trusty Asian market, there's a good chance your normal grocer has this stuff in the 'ethnic food' section. It works as a substitute for bean paste:

4. Add the Onion, and cook until it is just translucent. If your wok is getting 'sticky', turn the heat down, and slide a touch more oil in.
5. Add all of the Vegetables to your wok. Turn to coat, and cook for about 3 - 5 minutes.

6. Add the rest of the peanuts, stir to mix.
7. Deglaze the sides of your wok with the wine and orange juice. Stir.
8. Add the Chicken, and turn gently to coat and mix. Cook just long enough to reheat the chicken.
Serve with your choice of rice, grain, etc. Around here we tend to use a lot of Whole Wheat Cous-Cous because it's so quick and easy, and soaks up the juices like a champ.

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