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  Kung Pao - A Sichuan Classic

Loosely based on a recipe by Tyler Florence, this dish is restaurant worthy.  I've longed for an authentic version of Kung Pao that could rival the best I've found in my favorite Sichuan eateries, and this fills the bill.  This can easily be adapted for beef, chicken or shrimp.  Don't let the long list of ingredients deter you.  By having everything ready to go before you fire up your wok, this will come together quickly and easily.

For Beef or Chicken

1 pounds   

boneless beef sirloin or boneless chicken thighs (see notes)

2 tablespoon   

peanut oil

cup   

unsalted, roasted peanuts

3- 4 whole   

dried red chiles (adjust for heat)

1 tablespoon   

minced garlic

1 tablespoon   

minced ginger

1 tablespoon   

ground Sichuan peppercorns

3 whole   

scallions, cut on bias in " pieces

1 whole   

red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 ribs   

celery, sliced on bias

cup   

cornstarch

cup   

water

Marinade

1 tablespoon   

soy sauce

2 tablespoons   

sesame oil

1 tablespoon   

rice wine or sherry

1 large   

egg white, lightly beaten

teaspoon   

salt

Sauce

2 tablespoons   

soy sauce

3 tablespoons   

rice wine or sherry

1 tablespoon Oyster sauce

1 tablespoon

Chinese black or Balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon   

sugar

1 cup   

chicken broth

For stir frying this dish I strongly recommend a non-stick wok or skillet, heavy enough to withstand high heat.

Trim fat from the meat and cut into 1-inch cubes. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine/sherry, egg white and salt in a glass bowl. Add the meat and stir to coat. Marinate for 1 hour, covered in the refrigerator.

While awaiting the meat to marinate prepare the vegetables and set aside.  Mix the sauce and set aside.  Using the cornstarch and water, make a slurry and set aside.

Place the wok over high heat and allow it to get quite hot.  Place oil in the wok and swirl to coat the sides.  Remove the meat pieces from the marinade and, working in batches so as not to cool down the wok, add it to the wok.  You want to sear the pieces nicely without overcooking, about a minute or so on one side and another minute on the other.  Remove from wok and set aside.  Repeat until all the meat is browned.

Wipe the wok clean with paper towels if needed, and reheat with fresh peanut oil.

Add the chilies and cook until they begin to darken, about a minute or so.

Add the garlic, ginger and Szechwan pepper and stir fry for about 30 seconds or until quite aromatic.  Add the scallions, bell pepper, peanuts and celery and continue to stir fry until veggies are crisp-tender, about 1-2 minutes or so.

Return the meat pieces to the wok. Add the sauce and allow it to come to a boil. Add the cornstarch slurry slowly until the sauce is thickened to your taste.

Serve over rice.

For Kung Pao Shrimp (or Scallops)

All ingredients remain the same except the marinade should be changed as below.

Marinade

1 pound large, raw shrimp
1 tablespoon sesame oil

cup

soy sauce

cup   

rice wine or sherry

Combine the soy sauce and the rice wine and combine with the shrimp.  Toss to coat well.  Allow the shrimp to marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

While awaiting the shrimp prepare the vegetables and set aside.  Mix the sauce and set aside.  Using the cornstarch and water, make a slurry and set aside.

Place the wok over high heat and allow it to get quite hot.  Place oil in the wok and swirl to coat the sides.  Remove the shrimp from the marinade and stir fry, working in batches so as not to cool down the wok.  You want to stir fry the shrimp without overcooking, about a minute or so, or until it is just pink.  Remove from wok and set aside.  Repeat until all the shrimp is cooked.

If necessary add a little additional oil.  Add the chilies and cook until they begin to darken, about a minute or so.  

Add the garlic, ginger and Szechwan pepper and stir fry for about 30 seconds or until quite aromatic.  Add the scallions, bell pepper, peanuts and celery and continue to stir fry until veggies are crisp-tender, about 1-2 minutes or so.

Add the sauce and allow it to come to a boil. Add the cornstarch slurry slowly until the sauce is thickened to your taste.

Add the shrimp and cook until just heated through.

Serve immediately over white rice.

Notes:

Chicken breast meat may be used as well but dark meat is more authentic and less likely to dry out.


 

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