Szechuan Peanut Chicken

belal-el-atari-Szechuan-Peanut-ChickenWith winter growing colder by the day, it's becoming increasingly necessary to find recipes that are not only hot dishes, but are also healthful. Many Americans turn to easy, microwavable hot-plate options, but many of these contain harmful synthetic chemicals and can leave you feeling lethargic. If you're looking for a healthful, hot, and colorful dish to spice up your winter palette, you might want to try this recipe for Szechuan Peanut Chicken.

This recipe is useful in that the sauce for the chicken can be used for other stir-fries, especially enhancing meat, fish and poultry dishes. The key, like with much of Chinese cuisine, is that everything is cooked quickly in rapid succession. So, before you even look at the instructions, make sure you have all these ingredients out and ready to add:
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Chinkiang rice vinegar, (see Note) or balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, or thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon Shao Hsing rice wine, (see Note) or dry sherry
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 1/2-inch-thick slices ginger, smashed
2 cups sugar snap peas, (8 ounces)
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 scallion, minced
First, prepare the sauce by combining the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. A whisking spoon works well here and if you want to make this in advance, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Next, combine the chicken, rice or sherry wine, soy sauce, cornstarch and garlic in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.
To stir-fry, heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or large skillet on HIGH until the pan is hot enough to make a drop of water dance around the wok. Swirl oil into the pan to cover as much surface area as possible, add the smashed ginger and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Carefully add the chicken mixture, spreading it out. It's essential to spread out the chicken and let it cook for one minute without being touched to prevent sticking. Cook until the chicken begins to turn a golden brown, about 1 minute. Stir-fry for 30 seconds and make sure to spread out the chicken for another 30-seconds. Continue stir-frying until the chicken is lightly browned on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the snap peas or veggie of your choice and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the sauce and cook until the chicken is just cooked through and slightly-thickened and glossy, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Discard the ginger, sprinkle with chopped scallions and peanuts, and enjoy.
This recipe also tastes great cold, it's up to you!
Located in the southwest of China, Szechuan province has become known for its strong, aromatic flavors derived from liberal usage of garlic and Szechuan chili peppers. In Szechuan cuisine, the palette is composed of seven basic parts: sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic, and salty. Its cuisine's complex elements are in part created because of the wealth of crops and natural resources they have there. 

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