Although I wouldn't say that I love spicy foods, once in a while I get that craving and I can take the heat. Although I have made Kung Pao Chicken before, and was satisfied with the result, I thought I'd try a different recipe. I've always been happy with the many recipes from Cook's Illustrated, and this time was no different. It was a speedy, easy & full of spicy deliciousness (yes that is a word!) and tastes even better than from a restaurant. Reduce the ciles or pepper flakes if you want to tone down the heat - and I served this alongside rice & steamed broccoli.
Kung Pao Shrimp
1.5 lb chicken tenders or breats, cut into strips
1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced
½ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
6 small whole dried red chiles, 3 chiles roughly crumbled, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons black rice vinegar or plain rice vinegar (I used plain rice vinegar)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch dice (I used yellow bell pepper)
3 medium scallions, sliced thin
1. Toss shrimp with sherry and soy sauce in medium bowl; marinate until shrimp have absorbed flavors, about 10 minutes. Mix garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon oil in small bowl; set aside. Combine peanuts and chiles in small bowl; set aside. Mix chicken broth, vinegar, sesame oil, oyster-flavored sauce, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch in small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp and cook, stirring about once every 10 seconds, until barely opaque, 30 to 40 seconds; add peanuts and chiles, stir into shrimp, and continue cooking until shrimp are almost completely opaque and peanuts have darkened slightly, 30 to 40 seconds longer. Transfer shrimp, peanuts, and chiles to bowl; set aside. Return skillet to burner and reheat briefly, 15 to 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, swirl to coat pan, and add red bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 45 seconds. Clear center of pan, add garlic-ginger mixture, mash into pan with spoon or spatula, and cook until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds; stir into peppers until combined. Stir broth mixture to recombine, then add to skillet along with reserved shrimp, peanuts, and chiles; cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, until sauce has thickened to syrupy consistency, about 45 seconds. Stir in scallions; transfer to serving plate and serve immediately.
* Don't eat the whole chilies!