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spicy orange chicken with fancy small chopped hot house tomatoes


My first Chinese cooking classes covered: the extremely important exercise of boning an entire chicken, why we often find too much chopped celery in Chinese food, tips on dating in a Chinese family, and a handful of simple stir fry recipes, like plum chicken with walnuts, to make at home in a wok.  Over the years I've incorporated those first basic concepts I learned in my classes into every stir-fry I make, going rogue on many a recipe.  The final class was a tour of Chinatown in San Francisco and a visit to the Wok Shop to purchase an authentic carbon steel wok with the necessary tools.  I was nine months pregnant and gave birth right before the last class, so I missed my Wok Shop visit and tour.  I've since had a tour visiting many interesting shops in Chinatown in San Francisco.  If you've never visited Chinatown- you're in for a treat-it's fun for shopping and of course- a delicious multi-course Lunch in a Chinese restaurant.  Ok, I know you're dying to know what I bought in Chinatown; silk pajamas, slippers, little silk pouches for jewelry, greeting cards with Chinese characters, a black wool coat with beautiful traditional Chinese knot frog buttons and freshwater pearls.  I'm a tourist at heart, even in my own hometown.  We have missed many of our favorite restaurants and activities with the COVID quarantine but with a very good stir-fry cookbook, Stir-Frying To The Sky's Edge, and little effort to search out the authentic ingredients we have created some delicious authentic stir-fry dishes at home.  Don't get me wrong, as soon as it's safe We'll happily be eating in restaurants again.

The first time I made spicy orange chicken I should have stuck to the original cookbook recipe.  Because I didn't have the correct spicy ingredients for the recipe I tried to substitute dried peppers in the hot oil to find heat and spicy notes, like the Kung Pao Chicken recipe- it was too much over the top heat, extra spiciness that overpowered the orange chicken.  For my taste this extra heat was not necessary; do not put dried chilis in the stir fry oil unless you have an idea of what you're doing or at least start with one hot chili pepper 🌶 and work up from there or call the fire department, my unsolicited advice.  I'm sticking with the ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, orange zest, Sichuan peppercorns and the teaspoon of tame chili bean sauce because with all of that you have a great spicy recipe, no need to free style with hot peppers.

Ingredients and Recipe for Spicy Orange Chicken with Fancy Small Hot House Chopped Tomatoes
Serves 2-3

2 medium size skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1/2 teaspoon fine sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine grind white pepper
1/4 teaspoon toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 thick slice fresh ginger
zest of an orange
1 teaspoon chili bean sauce
4 small tomatoes, chopped 
1/2 cup minced scallions
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Steamed rice for serving

In a medium bowl combine the chicken, grated ginger, 1 tablespoon rice wine, soy sauce, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, sugar, white pepper and ground Sichuan peppercorns.  Stir to combine, set aside.
In a small bowl combine the broth, rice vinegar, the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch.
Heat a wok or large skillet and add the oil.  When the oil is sizzling hot add the piece of ginger and stir slightly until lightly browned, 15-20 seconds and remove from oil.
Carefully add the chicken pieces, spreading into an even layer and cooking for about 1 minute.
Add the orange zest and chili bean sauce, then stir fry for about 1 minute, until lightly browned.
Add the tomatoes and stir fry for 30 seconds, until combined.
Stir the broth mixture in the small bowl and pour into the wok, stirring to mix.
Add the scallions, sprinkle on the salt and stir fry for an additional minute or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Serve over steamed rice.


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