Home plate: Take a wok

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Classic Chinese dishes are amongh the most popular dishes in America, revered not only for their spicy flavors, but the relatively fast cooking time.

Kung Pao Chicken

Marinade

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cu-bes

Sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

8 to 10 dried red chilies

3 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

Marinate the chicken: In a medium bowl, stir to-gether the soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the chicken and stir gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Prepare the sauce: In another bowl, combine the black vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch, and Si-chuan pepper. Stir until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved and set aside.

You may need to turn on your stove’s exhaust fan, because stir-frying dried chilies on high heat can get a little smoky. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the chilies and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until the chilies have just begun to blacken and the oil is slightly fragrant. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients. Stir in the peanuts and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle the scallion greens on top, and serve.

 Ginger-Spiced Chicken

11⁄2 cups chicken breasts, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons oil

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small onion, cut in half and sliced

1 cup ginger, shredded

1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips

2 red chili peppers, sliced (optional)

1⁄2 cup chicken stock or 1⁄2 cup water

1 cup spring onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

Put oil into wok or frying pan. When hot, add garlic and stir-fry until brown.

Add onion and chicken; stir-fry until chicken begins to turn white.

Add ginger and red pepper, combine well.

Add chilies and chicken stock/water, and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Check chicken is white throughout, and then add spring onions. Cook for 30 seconds (until onions are slightly soft).

Serve with rice.

 Stir-Fried  Veggies

1 tablespoon chili paste

2 tablespoons sugar (or coconut palm sugar) (op-tional)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2-inch piece ginger, minced

1 cup halved crimini mushrooms

2 bell peppers, chopped

2 scallions, chopped (optional)

1 cup broccoli florets

Handful green beans, trimmed

In a small bowl, whisk together chili paste, sugar, and soy sauce. Set aside.

Into a wok over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add ginger and let cook for 1 minute. Add mush-rooms, bell pepper, scallions, broccoli, and green beans. Put a lid on wok and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Toss and continue to cook and toss without a lid for another 2 minutes.

Add sauce and toss again. Cook for another 3 minutes until liquid has cooked off and vegetables are tender.