Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kung Pao Chicken

No, the delay in posting is not an indicator that I have nothing to say about living in New York. And no, the delay in posting is not an indicator that I am losing inspiration in my cooking. The delay in posting is evidence of how little time I am spending in the kitchen due to the tempting restaurants and easy eats that exist on the street.
I’ve had an incredibly filling meal of beef, lamb, yogurt sauce, pita bread and rice, all for just $6, while overlooking the crowds streaming into Radio City Music Hall, oblivious of the deal they were walking past from the food cart. I’ve had a 99 cent pizza slice, a West Side Market ‘tv dinner’ for only $9.99 that you could, in theory, eat off of for two days (but not for me because I don’t believe in leftovers) and then I’ve had some gourmet treats as well – delicious, all-natural gelato, an incredible birthday meal here, and some South American splendor here. The food options are overwhelming. Now I need to focus on recreating them in my kitchen!One of the more transporting experiences was last weekend’s trip to Chinatown for Dim Sum. At first, I thought I was being offended when someone said those two words to me. But no, they were not calling me a name, but were explaining it was a must-try New York experience. So I signed up as soon as possible and Saturday, a friend and I ventured downtown to Golden Unicorn for a real-live Dim Sum experience. It was amazing. And cheap! I ate well over my capacity and all for $11. And the concept of pushing carts around a dining room filled with mini plates of delicious pork buns, dumplings, meats and vegetables is the same theory I have on a future dessert restaurant. Only with donuts, cupcakes, fruits and creams.

While in Chinatown, you can’t miss the many markets with fresh produce, fish (real fresh . . .), meat and other groceries. Right beyond the corner of Canal and Bowery is where I found one of these and bought the ingredients for this dish. The special ingredients specific to Chinese cooking would have been much more had I gone to my go-to Upper West Side market but there, in Chinatown, they were cents instead of dollars. And I was able to bring a little bit of the Orient uptown . . .

Kung Pao Chicken
Adapted from My Recipes

1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon ground fresh ginger, divided
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts on the thin side or pummeled to a thinner cut; cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped salted peanuts
Brown rice

Get the brown rice going according to the instructions on the box. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and 2 teaspoons ginger to pan; sauté about one minute. Add water (I ended up adding a bit more than two tablespoons as you can tell from my pictures – don’t let the miniscule amount concern you). Cover; cook 2 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Remove broccoli from pan..

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan; add remaining 1 teaspoon ginger, crushed red pepper, and chicken. Cook 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Combine broth and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Return broccoli mixture to pan; toss to coat. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve over brown rice.