Friday, May 6, 2011

Authentic, no. Awesome, yes. Kung Pao Chicken

So let me say first that I like authentic ethnic food. Let me say next that I also like the food that you get in American Chinese restaurants, which, by all accounts, isn't very Chinese. Food is food, and I figure it's always authentic to somewhere, so I don't get too wound up about what kind of cooking it is as long as it's tasty.

Which brings me to this take on Kung Pao chicken. I'd say it's a tamed-down version of the authentic Chinese version, which promises to set your mouth on fire. (You can find an adventurous recipe in this story from NPR's All Things Considered.)  Not feeling so adventurous? You can try my recipe, from Cooking Light. (Bonus! It's healthy!) I'm including the recipe as originally published, although you'll notice from my photo that I also included carrots. Yum.

Kung Pao Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced ginger
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts 
Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes or until chicken begins to brown.

Combine 3/4 cup water and the next 5 ingredients (through crushed red pepper), stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Add water mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Add bell pepper and snow peas to pan; cook for 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce thickens. Sprinkle with nuts.

So what's your opinion on ethnic food? How important is authenticity?


Annie said...

Now, if only you could find me a good recipe for Duck Sauce.

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

I LOVE all ethnic food.... A LOT!!!! I need to try this recipe.....thank you so so much for posting this gorgeous girl!

Lizzy said...

It sure does look awesome!!! My family will appreciate a recipe that doesn't set your mouth on fire :)

I hope you enjoy your Eclair Cake!!!