I’m back from Beijing and for this first TastyAsia recipe since my return, I’m sharing a recreation of a dish I had on the trip. The restaurant was a delightful hole-in-the-wall sort of place and was one of the first real foodie restaurants I’ve been to in China. They weren’t interested in doing splendid versions of traditional Beijing banquet fare, but instead were inventive and playful. In fact, we asked them how they best described their food, and their answer was “Beijing creative.”
One of their signature dishes was deep-fried pears served with large gulf shrimp accompanied by pear tea. I may try making that someday… but not now. Tonight I managed to pull off a fair copy of their spicy chicken dish. Here’s a picture of the original, from the restaurant:
And this tonight’s TastyAsia home version:
Yes, there are some significant differences, I know, I know. I skimped on the leeks for one thing: bad idea, lesson learned. But the taste was basically right on target and that’s what’s really important.
For the marinade:
- 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp potato flour
For the chicken:
- 1 Tbsp peanut oil
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into very thin strips
- 5 Chinese leeks (or 10 scallions), sliced diagonally into 2-3 inch lengths
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4″ ginger, minced
For the sauce:
- 1-2 Tbsp doubanjiang (豆瓣酱, spicy bean paste)
- 1 tsp potato flour mixed into 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- Mix the marinade ingredients then add the chicken strips, combine well, and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while finishing the rest of the prep work.
- Cook the chicken with the “velvet” technique: heat 2 quarts water until boiling. Add the chicken and stir well; cook very briefly (only about 1 minute), just until the chicken turns white, then drain into a colander.
- Heat the peanut oil in your wok until it just begins to smoke, then add the chicken and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Then add the garlic and ginger, stir-fry for another 30 seconds; then add the doubanjiang and stir fry for about a minute. Add the soy sauce/potato flour mixture and the sesame oil, and stir well for about 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the Chinese leeks, stir until warm, then serve immediately.
Variations: If you have a good Asian market handy, the Chinese leeks shouldn’t be a problem. They look like a cross between an American green onion (or scallion), and a Western leek, meaning they’re a bit sturdier than your typical scallion but more tender than the leeks that we’re used to. If you don’t have these in your market, substitute scallions but make sure not to cook the green parts for more than a just few seconds or they’ll wilt.