Adventures in Eating: Kung Pao Chicken

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were happy ones, and filled with good wines and food! Last month I had a sit down dinner for 14 people. Usually when I give dinner parties, not only do I spend days preparing the meal, I am lucky if I can get a chance to eat lunch! For some strange reason, I felt that the more time I spent cooking, the better the dinner would be. Last month I proved myself wrong. I had a sit down dinner for 14 people and spent the day of my party at the mall, not in the kitchen.

I contently sat sipping a Cap­puccino with a friend (who was a guest that evening) at 4:30, with a party starting at 7:30! I drove home relaxed, took a leisurely shower and casually sauntered into my kitchen to prepare dinner for my guests! The menu? Chinese and very spicy, Kung Pao chicken (which I served with rice and a sal­ad with Wolgang Puck’s “Chinois Vinagrette”, which is in his latest cookbook).

I must say, my guests were very happy, and as they toasted to me, I silently vowed to make all my dinner parties as easy as this one!

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 2-4, can be doubled or tripled.

2 whole chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg white
1 tsp. cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
5-10 dry roasted red chiles (the more the spicier)
1 bunch green onions, cut into
1 inch slices, (green part, too)
2 cloves garlic, minced

For chile sauce:

1 1/2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil

Combine chicken, egg white and cornstarch and mix by hand. Mix together all the ingredients for the chile sauce and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok. Add chicken and cook until done. Remove chicken. Add peanuts to wok and cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Remove. Add chiles and cook, stirring until very dark, but not scorched. Add onions and garlic, stir fry 30 sec­onds. Add cooked chicken, pea­nuts and chile sauce and cover wok. Cook 2-3 mins. until thick.

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