- 4 boned chicken thighs with skin (about 12 oz total)
- 6-10 dried red chiles
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- peanut oil for deep-frying
- FOR THE MARINADE
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil
- FOR THE SAUCE
- 1 tablespoon double-concentrate tomato paste mixed with
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon potato starch
- ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon clear rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Everyday Stock (recipe follows) or water
- Thinly sliced scallion greens (to garnish)
This version of the dish is based on one I learned in the kitchen of the Peng Yuan restaurant in Taipei. It was invented by veteran chef Peng Chang-kuei, who still runs the restaurant with his son, Peng T’iehcheng. The dish is hot and sour, and lacks the sweetness of the Americanized version, which follows. You can use chicken breast instead of thigh meat if you prefer.
1. Unfold the chicken thighs and lay them, skin side down, on a chopping board. (If some parts are very thick, lay your knife flat and slice them in half, parallel to the board.) Use a sharp knife to make a few shallow crisscross cuts into the meat - this will help the flavors to penetrate. Then cut each thigh into bite-size slices, an uneven 1/4-inch or so in thickness. Place the chicken slices in a bowl.
2. To make the marinade, add the soy sauces and egg yolk to the chicken and mix well, then stir in the potato starch and lastly the oil; set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. To make the sauce, combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
4. Use a pair of scissors to snip the dried chiles into 3/4-inch pieces, discarding seeds as far as possible; set aside.
5. Heat enough oil for deep-frying to 350-400 degrees F. Add the chicken and deep-fry until it is crisp and golden. (If you are deep-frying in a wok with a relatively small volume of oil, fry the chicken in batches.) Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the oil into a heatproof container, and clean the wok if necessary.
6. Return the wok to a high flame with 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Add the dried chiles and stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant and just changing color (do not burn them). Toss in the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds longer, until fragrant. Then add the sauce and stir as it thickens.
7. Return the chicken to the wok and stir vigorously to coat the pieces in sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and then serve, sprinkled with scallion greens.
EVERYDAY STOCK (XIAN TANG)
"This kind of stock is the base of most everyday soups and is also added to sauces for a richer flavor. The most common is simply pork-bone stock (gu tau tang), which is widely used in peasant cookery, although some recipes require chicken stock (ji tang). I tend to make a big potful of stock with either chicken carcasses and wings, or a mixture of chicken and pork bones, from time to time, depending on what my butcher has available, and freeze it in useful quantities. The basic method is as follows."
Any or all of the following:
chicken carcasses, chicken wings, chicken bones, pork ribs, pork bones
Fresh ginger, unpeeled
Cover the chicken and/or pork bones generously with cold water and bring to a boil, skimming the surface as necessary.
Crush a piece of ginger and a couple of scallions with the wide blade of your cleaver or a heavy object.
When the foam stops rising from the bones, add the ginger and scallions. Partially cover the pan and simmer over a gentle heat for 2-3 hours.
Strain before using or storing (store in the refrigerator or freeze).