Early in my marriage, wok cooking became fashionable. Everyone owned huge arrays of dried peppers and seaweeds, chili oils, rice wines, vinegars, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and mushroom soy sauce, 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.
1 T or more toasted sesame oil
2-3 whole dry red peppers, as hot as you are comfy with
2 inches raw ginger root, grated
1-2 fat cloves garlic, sliced and crushed
one boneless chicken thigh per person, cut in bite-size pieces
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
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 to the hot spicy oil. 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 the liquid thickens.
Add the scallions and stir until the scallion greens are wilted.
Serve immediately over hot rice. I like it with white basmati rice that has had a lump of butter melted into it.