Wok

Kung Pao Chicken (or Shrimp)

This little feast takes a very deep dive into the spicy umami world of Szechuan cuisine.  One of the crucial ingredients of Szechuan home cooking is Szechuan peppers (pic included).  Not really a pepper, it is a spice from bushes locally found in Southern China.  It is lemony and savory, and it has the unique ability to cause the palate to momentarily tingle.  Although few other American recipes call for them, it is very commonly used in Szechuan province.  The tingling mesmerizing qualities of Szechuan Peppers is a sensation we associate with authentic meals from Szechuan, and this dish is far more compelling with it included.  The Chinese characters for Szechuan Peppers translates to “numb hot”… which is a perfect description of what happens in your mouth when you eat them.  First your mouth seems slightly numb, the stillness before the storm, and then the heat comes, full of flavor and sensations.  It’s absolutely addictive. The other crucial ingredient for authentic Szechuan cuisine is fermented broad bean paste.  I know, it doesn’t sound sexy.  But it is.  Very.  It lies at the heart and soul of the intense umami flavors in authentic Szechuan feasts.  All fermented foods are umami, but this stuff is just magical.  It’s also easily available on Amazon, ( pic included).  Please give broad bean paste a whirl when you cook a Szechuan meal, it’s a completely unique flavor, and packed with savory intensity.   Soon we will posting more Szechuan dishes like Szechuan Orange Chicken and Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup.  Also check out our post of Ma Po Tofu, another Szechuan feast we are crazy about.  Ingredients in Total 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, lightly salted and cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch pieces 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, (not dry roasted) 1 […]

Mapo Tofu with Spicy Pork

This is the best tofu meal I’ve ever tasted, hands down.  The neutral flavors of the tofu soak up all the exotic spices, like the Chinese black vinegar, the thick dark soy, the mysterious Shoaxing wine and the umami bomb Szechuan fermented chili/broad bean paste… all of which makes the tofu glossy when stirred together with the deeply flavorful wok seared ground pork shoulder.

Thai Red Curry Duck with Pineapple and Cherry Tomatoes

This little umami feast explodes with flavor because of the wildly contrasting tastes… the rich deep dark pink meat of the duck breast match perfectly with the spicy red curry, and the bright sweet taste of the pineapple and the tomatoes contrast wonderfully with the richness of the coconut cream and the umami fish sauce.  It’s also addictive, like the best meals from Thailand, with the amazing fresh flavors of the lemongrass, Kiffir lime leaves, Thai basil, mint and cilantro.