I LOVE spicy food.
Seriously. There's almost nothing I enjoy more than sweat-inducing spicy food so hot that you have to blow your nose in between bites.
I think it's partially a Chinese thing, partially a genetic thing.
You see, my dad was born and raised in Changsha, capital of the Chinese province of Hunan. Hunan cuisine is known for being hot & spicy. So spicy.
Growing up, I learned the hard way to never trust my dad when it comes to spice. When he said something was "only a little bit spicy", what that actually meant was me spending the next ten minutes strenuously chugging water in vain.
His favorite spicy sauce was this chunky chili oil with chili seeds and peanuts and other miscellaneous Chinese things in it. It's called 'Lao Gan Ma', which when directly translated comes out to be 'Old Godmother'... Which doesn't seem to be quite right.
Anyways, he used to put it on everything. I remember I would get quite upset with him when he would slather his bagel with chili oil instead of cream cheese. It just seemed so wrong.
Looking back now, I've realized that my dad had it right the whole time.
Of course in my mind, there is still no better pairing for a bagel than cream cheese, but now I know, my friends, spicy is the way to go.
As it is my dad's birthday today, I wanted to share a recipe I created in honor of him - Mr. Spice Guy - and the oh so ever-present 'Old Godmother'.
Such a breeze to throw together, just a few ingredients, and nothing to do but some chopping. A recipe perfect for those evenings after a long day of work, or just because we LOVE spicy food.
CHINESE CHILI CHICKEN
Serves 4 2 large / 3 small chicken breasts 2 tbs cooking wine 2 tsp corn starch 1 medium onion 2 celery stalks 1 bell pepper, preferably red or yellow 1 chili, finely chopped 1 small piece of ginger, about 1 tsp finely chopped 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 2 heaping spoonfuls of “Lao Gan Ma” chili sauce 2 tbs soy sauce 1 tbs sugar
Dice the vegetables and the chicken in to small chunks.
Mix the cooking wine and corn starch with the chicken. (This will make the chicken more tender.)
Cook the diced chicken in a big oiled pot over medium/high heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until almost fully-cooked. Remove the chicken from the pot.
Add the chopped veggies, chili, ginger and garlic in to the pot. Let the veggies sweat for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking or burning.
Add the chicken back in to the pot along with the soy sauce, chili sauce and sugar. Cook for another minute while stirring to combine.
Garnish with some roasted peanuts and coriander if you like.
*The chili sauce makes the dish quite salty. Serve with a bowl of fluffy white rice. #perfection.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's exactly what Chinese home-cooking should be: simple, straightforward, and yet so tasty.
Until next time.
Happy birthday daddy.
© 2014 The Ballerina Chef