I’ve been doing a lot of stir-fries. It’s all due to a new cookbook I got, Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. I like this cookbook because Grace Young not only gives a very good intro on the ins and outs of stir frying, she also offers a lot of traditional dishes adapted by Chinese people living in areas where traditional ingredients isn’t readily available. I love this because I tend to cook with whatever is on hand and what I think would make good substitutes. My grandmother was pretty traditional in her cooking, never swaying from the tried and true recipes. But mom was not as much, me even less. She would use traditional ingredients but she turned her nose up in regards to some the old rules that hardcore cooks followed. For instance, never add green onions if there are regular onions in a dish.
What’s been great about all the stir fries lately is that I make enough so there’s leftovers for at least one more meal. I was telling the Mister I just don’t know how Mom and Nai Nai (grandmother) cooked just about ever night. Not just one dish, often 3-4 dishes for dinner. I have a confession, I can’t do that. As quickly as stir fry cooks, the prep does take time. Everything chopped and sauces ready to stir in. I’ve made some 3-dish meals lately and I just can’t but feel exhausted thinking about doing that every night. But I still enjoy the whole process, just not every night.
The first dish I made was the Kung Pao Chicken. The Mister and his mom love to order KPC but I’ve never been a fan of the ABCDE versions. This one, however, I like.
For those looking for a more Paleo version, I’ve added the substitutions to the right of the ingredient in red italics and within parentheses.
Adapted from Grace Young’s Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge
Paleo diet ingredient substitution in red.
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce (Tamari)
- 2 teaspoon sugar (black strap molasses or maple sugar)
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine (or dry sherry)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablspoon chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil (extra virgin avocado oil)
- 4-8 dried red chile peppers, cut in half
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted, ground Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/inch squares
- 1/2 cup scallions, minced
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (pecans or walnuts, optional)
In a medium bowl, combine chicken, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice wine, 1 teaspoon sugar (black strap molasses or maple sugar), 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine.
In a separate small bowl, mix together broth, vinegar, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, sesame oil, and remaining rice wine, set aside.
In a large wok on high heat, swirl in 1 tablespoon of oil. Add chiles and ground Sichuan peppercorns, stir fry for 15 seconds until the chiles start to smoke a little and darken. Push the chili mixture to one side of the wok, add the chicken and spread it evenly on the bottom of the wok. Cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Then stir fry the chicken and the chiles together for another minute until the chicken is lightly browned. The chicken won’t be cooked all the way through yet.
Swirl in remaining tablespoon of oil. Add bell peppers and stir fry for 1 minute or so until the peppers start to soften. Add the nuts (if using) and scallions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir fry for 30-60 seconds until the chicken is cooked through and the scallions are bright green. Serve hot. How about serving over some cauliflower fried rice for an all paleo experience?.