BVC Eats: Hot pepper chicken with smoked oysters

raw chicken thighs, some assembly required

raw chicken thighs, some assembly required

Early in my marriage, wok cooking became fashionable. Everyone owned huge arrays of dried peppers and seaweeds, chili oils, rice wines, vinegars, light, dark and mushroom soy, regular garlic and elephant garlic, five kinds of dried mushrooms, white and green cardamoms, raw ginger, pickled ginger, dried ginger, lime leaves, lemon grass, oh goodness me. The cool kids made their own ghi and curry powders. We prowled the aisles of mysterious and aromatic grocery stores in Chinatown and Little India, where none of the labels were in our character set.

I totally made this recipe up out of my own head.

This recipe is low-carb if you don’t add much cornstarch to thicken the sauce. It’s also one of those recipes where, if you leave out one ingredient, you change the whole character of the dish. Give it a try before you mess with it

Because you cook this in a wok, have all the ingredients ready before you start cooking. The actual cook time is short.

hot pepper chicken with smoked oysters

chop them up or mash 'em a bit with a rolling pin

chop them up or smash ’em a bit with a rolling pin

Ingredients in cooking order:

1 T or more toasted sesame oil
2-3 whole dry red peppers

2 inches raw ginger root, grated
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced and crushed
6-8 oz of chicken per person, boneless, raw or cooked cut into bite-size piece
I use chicken thighs, as I find them tastier than breasts. YMMV.

1 cup stock or water – more if you like it soupy

¼ cup chopped or slightly smashed roasted salted cashews
1 tin of smoked baby oysters (liquid included)
1 tin (about 1/2 cup) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 T cornstarch
¼ cup rice wine
2 T dark soy sauce
mix these three together and reserve

10 to 30 scallions, green parts sliced 1 inch long, white parts sliced in thin coins

for goodness sake, throw the blackened chiles out after you fry them

for goodness sake, throw away the blackened chiles after you fry them

Heat the empty wok over a high flame. Add the sesame oil and heat until smoking. Add the red peppers and stir-fry them in the oil until blackened. Remove the peppers and discard them. The sesame oil is now reasonably spicy.

Add the grated ginger root, the garlic, and the chicken. Stir constantly on high heat until the chicken bits are seared. They should be about half cooked through.

Add the stock or water and cover. Cook on high heat for about five minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through.

Add the cashews, the oysters with their liquid, and the drained water chestnut slices. Stir. Cook until the chestnuts are hot.

Add the mixed cornstarch, rice wine, and soy sauce. Stir and cook until thickened.

Add the scallions and stir until the scallion greens are wilted.

Dancing With Cupid by Jennifer StevensonServe immediately over hot rice. I like it with white basmati rice that has had a lump of butter melted into it.

Try Dancing With Cupid just for the seduction-by-food scene, featuring Assamese dishes!



BVC Eats: Hot pepper chicken with smoked oysters — 1 Comment

  1. Hmm. Have you seen the studies they’ve done, about cooking with flavored oils? Most of the flavor in sesame oil, walnut oil, garlic oil, etc. is very sensitive to heat. Also, they are a ton more expensive than plain canola or vegetable oil. So, to get your max value out of them, you stir-fry with vegetable oil. Then add a splash of sesame or whatever oil at the end, just before you serve.

    Do you use the dry red Thai peppers, about the size and shape of your pinky finger?