I have cooked Kung Pao Chicken previously. I have even shared the results of one venture here. There seem to be more versions and variations on the Kung Pao theme than there are woks in Schezwan Provence. So, I thought it safe to post a different version for your delight. This one leans towards the rising sun (It comes up in the East around here). It favours more of the ‘authentic’ than other versions around the place and it is truly fantastic and tasty.
One of the time-of-times in a sad superstitious old man’s life is approaching. My youngest is preparing to emigrate. She has finished the formal part of her education and wants to spread her wings. This is not a lucky time for me. So I suspect that it’s appropriate that number thirteen in this series is a meal that she has begged me to cook as one of her departure treats. It’s my take on seafood-free Pad Thai or ‘Dad Thai’ to take it for my own. The ingredients are all in the photo above. For superstition’s sake, there are fourteen.
This is one of the easiest oriental dish I have ever cooked. The only difficulty is in carving the chicken. The oriental style of bird slicing involves chopping through flesh and bone. This requires a fair deal of heavy-handed work. This is best for authenticity but, those weak-willed amongst you can carve it in a western fashion. On the positive side of things, this will feed five to six people and they will all want you to cook it again and again. I have never tasted it cold. If you prepare it right, neither will you.
I was tempted to dedicate this post to Frank Sinatra, he of the “I did it my way”. But given everything I have heard and read about the man, I think we should say that he was a good singer and leave it (and all reference to the little man with the oversized ego) right here.
Over the years and decades, I have eaten Kung Po Chicken dozens of times. It is (as is “My Way”) a standard. There should be only one true recipe for Kung Po. But, you have guessed it, there are as many ways of cooking it as there are Chins in the Peking phone book.
This post could have almost as easily been titled “Prelude to a divorce”. You need to understand that the Wife is a lady of habit. One of the fulcrums around which she runs her life is her mugs of tea. Not tea-bag tea. Proper leaf tea. I have even been swayed over to enjoying a mug or three at 06:30 most mornings. So when I suggested that I might use a couple of tablespoons of our regular tea leafs to cook a chicken, I got a pretty frosty reaction.
Do you guys think I’m doing this for my own amusement? I have to tell you I am not impressed. I spend the early part of the week cogitating “What would they like to see?” “What would be good enough to share with them?” “I’ll need to buy another couple of plates, they are probably bored with these ones…” The thought process goes on. The angst builds until I finally settle on cooking something that I am convinced will win you over. The latter part of the week is spent ensuring I have the best and the freshest ingredients. Saturday, I check my camera gear. Tension in the household mounts. On Saturday evening or possibly Sunday, I take control of the kitchen and cook and photograph for you. Then I process the pictures and try to think of something to say.
I’m not a big man. I stand about 5′ 8″ in my socks (not a sight you would want to see). When I married the Wife a good few years ago, I was smart enough to be sure that I married somebody smaller than me. That way, she would represent no physical danger. As I have matured over the years, I realise that there are more ways to be threatened by the Wife than with simple physical violence.
I’ve got you deep in the heart of me
So deep in my heart that you’re really a part of me
I’ve got you under my skin
This sounds like a strange way to sing one’s way into a story. Go with it. You remember the standard, written by Cole Porter, made famous by Old Blue Eyes. Now sing along…
I need to be careful how I phrase this. There are two old steamers in the kitchen. They have been there for years and they have even been a big influence on the lives of my children. I think it’s time they came out of the closet.