Kung Pao Chicken with Hoisin Sauce Kung Pao Shrimp or Scallops
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Okay, so this is not a Thai recipe, but I have to include it because it is so good.  I have tried to make Kung Pao chicken many times without success.  Many of the recipes I tried actually called for marinating the chicken in red wine or sherry wine which gave the chicken an unnatural color.  Today I use this recipe which my family loves. The secret to a good Kung Pao sauce is the bean sauce, hoisin sauce and rice vinegar.  You can view the full story behind the ingredients and the recipe below…. Prepared bean sauce is made from pureed soybeans or black beans with added spices.  It forms the base of many Chinese dishes but many new cooks are not familiar with it.  But is very easy to use because it comes prepared in jars and you can try different brands to see which suits your taste. Some people confuse hoisin sauce with plum sauce.  Hoisin sauce is made from soybeans that have been fermented and sweetened with sugar or molasses.  Plum sauce really is made from plums and it is not a good substitute here so be sure to use hoisin sauce for this recipe. The word vinegar comes from the French words vin (wine) and aigre (sour).  Plain white vinegar is made from diluted alcohol products, usually wine, which have been forced to react with oxygen.  Chinese style rice vinegar is brewed from rice wine and so it is a less acidic product and that is why it is used here.  So you can see how the terms rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar are interchangeable in the grocery store. Ingredients for marinating the chicken: 8 ounces chicken breast, cut into very small cubes ½ inch or less 1 teaspoon cornstarch ½ cup peanut oil For the Sauce: 6 dried chili peppers, or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste 2 tablespoons bean sauce 1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce 1 tablespoon rice vinegar 1 tablespoon soy sauce ¼ cup scallion whites, sliced thin 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine ¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts Optional: 2 celery stalks, chopped 2 medium carrots, sliced, then boiled until they are just tender, then drain them and they are ready for this recipe 6 broccoli florets You can also replace the chicken with more vegetables for Kung Pao Vegetables, or substitute some seafood to make Kung Pao Shrimp or Kung Pao Scallops. Start by marinating the chicken breast with the corn starch and oil, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Heat a wok or a heavy skillet, then add the chicken and cook until the meat changes color.  Then remove just the chicken and set it aside.  If you are using shrimp cook them until they turn pink, and for scallops cook them until they just start to turn a solid white color and immediately remove them.  Drain and set aside any cooked meat you have for now. Pour off all but ¼ cup of the oil from the wok.  If you have used frozen meat then there will have been extra water released during cooking.  Just leave only ¼ cup of the oil and fluid in the wok and drain off all the rest and discard it. Add the dried chilies, the scallion whites and garlic and stir fry them all briefly.  Then add any vegetables you are using like the optional celery, carrots or broccoli and cook them just until they are heated through. Now add the sauce mixture, and cook until it just begins to boil, then add the chicken or other cooked meat and toss to coat everything and serve with rice! You can double or triple this recipe but if you do then keep the amount of oil the same, or just increase it a little.  Also, increase the amount of sauce only just a little because for me for some reason the sauce gets out of proportion when I double or triple this recipe.