Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken


Yesterday was the Lunar New Year, so I thought it would be fun to "celebrate" with some Chinese food: Kung Pao Chicken. This dish is far from authentic (I used a sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings, for goodness sakes!), but John and I both loved it. The recipe came from Budget Bytes.


Ingredients:
  • 1 - boneless, skinless chicken breast (I only used one, but next time I'd use two)
  • 3 Tbsp - vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp - soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp - rice vinegar 
  • 2 Tbsp - corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp - brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp - Asian Zing sauce
  • 3 cloves - garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp - sesame seed oil
  • 1 bunch - green onions
  • 1 - red bell pepper
  • 4 - carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup - peanuts, roasted and unsalted
  • 1.5 cups of white rice (or jasmine rice)

Steps...

I knew the instant I started opening this "Stay Fresh! No Mess!"corn starch container, that I would get it all over the place. 


I was right.


{See those weird silver discs behind the container? Those are lights I put under my cabinets to brighten up my kitchen so I can actually see what I'm cooking. Apparently, the adhesive they come with isn't strong enough; they woke me up in the middle of the night, crashing to the counter. Gonna have to fix those!}


Back to the cooking. Here are the ingredients for the marinade.


First step is to dissolve 1 Tbsp of corn starch in 1 Tbsp of water. 


Then I added 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, 1 Tbsp of rice vinegar (original recipe called for rice wine, but I didn't have any, so I used this instead. Turned out fine!), and 3 cloves of minced garlic.


Next, I chopped the chicken. I have such an aversion to raw chicken. This picture grosses me out! I always use tongs when handling raw chicken, so I don't have to touch it. Ew.


Then I dropped the chicken into the marinade, put a lid on it, and put it in the fridge for  about 30 minutes while I got everything else ready.


Next, I started the rice. I realized at the last minute that I was out of jasmine rice (what the recipe called for), so I used regular old white rice. And I took the easy way out and used my rice cooker. I cooked 1.5 cups of dry rice.


I always add a little extra flavoring when I make rice. I usually use chicken broth in place of water, but since I still had some chicken stock left in my fridge, I put a spoonful of it in with the water. (It's a lot stronger than the broth I buy in the can.)


Next, I prepared the sauce. It's almost the same as the marinade, but adds a bit extra.


The sauce includes: 1 Tbsp of corn starch, 1 Tbsp of water, 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, 1 Tbsp of rice wine, 2 Tbsp chili sauce, 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, and 1 tsp of sesame oil.


The original recipe called for Sambal chili sauce, but unfortunately, I couldn't find any at my grocery store. So instead, I used this other chili sauce we have from our guilty pleasure restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings. :)



This is the first time I've cooked with sesame seed oil. WOW! It smells SO good. I need to find more uses for this.


Here's the yummy sauce!


Next, I got the vegetables and nuts ready to go. 
  • 1 bunch of green onions (both the green and white parts!)
  • 4 carrots (I just use a vegetable peeler to get them into thin strips. I know they're kind of wide, but oh well. It's easier this way.)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of peanuts (I ended up adding more later. I like crunch!)



Hey there, Mr. Peanut!


By this time, it is about time to start cooking the meat! Whenever I make Asian food, I like to use this oil. It's more expensive than regular old vegetable oil or olive oil, but I love the way it smells. Feels kinda fancy.


I put about 2 Tbsp of oil in the pan and put it on medium high for a couple minutes until the oil gets very hot. 


Next, I added the green onions and the chicken. 


I kept stirring it around until it was fully cooked, about 5 minutes. (I like my chicken pretty well done, because I'm paranoid, so I always cook it for a couple extra.)


When the chicken is fully cooked, add the vegetables and peanuts.


Stir them all together. 


Add the sauce and cook for about 3 minutes as it thickens up.


I left the veggies and the sauce on the burner a little too long; I would have preferred them to stay a little crunchier. (I blame the picture-taking!) I added some extra peanuts to bring the crunch back. 


Serve and eat on top of the rice. Yum! 


I realize now, as I look at these pictures, that I was supposed to save some green onions to garnish the dish. Oh well! This was so delicious that I didn't notice.


John and I were both really happy with how this turned out. It also made for a great leftover lunch today. I will certainly make this again!

What is your favorite asian (or asian-inspired) dish?

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