Every chef has a few favorite recipes that are not part of his or her specialty. I'm an Atlantic Coast chef who naturally uses seafood and local ingredients in his recipes, and love doing it.
But when I whip up something just for the fun of it for family and friends -- here's a personal favorite from China's largest province, Szechuan.
Szechuan is the homeland of a number of spicy recipes, such as "Tea Smoked Duck" - a delicious dish made by smoking a duck over tea leaves.
Much of the spicing of Szechuan cooking is done by bringing together five fundamental taste sensations - sweet, sour, pungent, salty and bitter. The balance of these distinct elements in any one dish or regional cuisine can vary, according to need and desire. Szechuan cooking uses lots of garlic, chili peppers, and Szechuan peppercorn, known also as star anise and mala, in their best known recipes. A lot of their dishes, like Kung Pau chicken, use these hot red chilis.
--Chinese Szechuan Ginger Chicken--
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1+1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1+1/2 tsp. minced ginger root
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup cooking wine
1+1/2 cup hot chicken broth
3 lbs. deboned dark chicken meat, cut into large chunks
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp Szechuan pepper or white pepper
1 cup cornstarch
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 cups sliced green onions
16 small dried hot peppers
Mix 1/2 cup cornstarch with water. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, 1/2 cup soy sauce, vinegar, wine, chicken broth and MSG (if desired).
Stir until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until needed.
In a separate bowl, mix chicken, 1/4 cup soy sauce and white pepper.
Stir in egg. Add 1 cup cornstarch and mix until chicken pieces are coated evenly. Add a little vegetable oil to help separate chicken pieces.
Divide chicken into small quantities and deep-fry at 350 degrees until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Place a small amount of oil in wok and heat until wok is hot. Add onions and peppers and stir-fry briefly. Stir sauce and add to wok. Place chicken in sauce and cook until sauce thickens.
Ginger Chicken can be served with Chinese Dumplings or Chicken Fried Rice. The rice dish can be easily prepared from a supermarket mix.
Dig in and enjoy!
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