Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
As part of the thanksgiving recuperation process, I thought I’d do a simple chinese dinner. In order to make it interesting, I thought I’d try another recipe from Iron Chef Chen’s cookbook. So dinner tonight was his soy honey broiled chicken wings and Chen-san’s stir fry of bell peppers. The recipe called for 4 (12 1/4 oz) bell peppers (red, green, orange and purple). Whole Foods, Newtonville didn’t have the purple so I substituted in a yellow bell pepper (Chairman Kaga, did you have anything to do with this?). Additionally, Chen-san’s recipe called for 2 red chili peppers, and since I ALSO could not find red ones, I substituted in 2 green serranos.. Now the recipe calls for deseeding the chilli peppers and cutting them into rounds; but the serranos were so thin, I ended up splitting them lengthwise, deseeding them and then cross cutting the split serranos.
I also got together a tablespoon of minced garlic and soaked them, as specified in the recipe; additionally, I estimated the call for 3/4 oz of black beans to be about 4 1/2 teaspoons. I put both the garlic and beans in a separate container to soak – one for mellowing out the garlic and the other to rehydrate and to rinse off the excess salt from the black beans. I let them both sit for a while (at least 15 minutes).
At that point, I drained both, set the garlic aside and then proceeded to combine the black beans with 1 teaspoon of chili garlic sauce and 1 tablespoon of sake and set that also aside.
I then mixed up 2 teaspoons of soy, 2 3-fingered pinches of black pepper and a teaspoon each of chili oil and dark sesame seed old. To finish the preparations, I had to destem, deseed and chop up all the
bell peppers into bite size pieces.
At this point, I was ready to start cooking. Chen-san indicates that this entire dish is sauteed in the wok at high heat which meant the ingredients had to be in constant motion (else they’d burn). So I got my wok good and hot, added in some rice oil and tossed in the bell peppers. I was tossing the bell pepper pieces about for around a good 10 minutes until softened enough.
At that point, I added in the serranos and the garlic, continuing to stir fry.to let as much of the liquids released from the vegetables evaporate. Once the chili pepper and garlic was incorporated (lots of stir fry tossing around for about 2 minutes), I then added the black bean mixture and tossed the entired mixture vigorously about for about another 2 to 3 minutes. When the wok contents looked evenly mixed through, I poured in the sesame-chili oil/soy/pepper mix and stir fried for about 2 to 3 more minutes. There was enough in the wok to distribute into two of my ovenproof revol plates.
Upon tasting the bell pepper stir fry, there was an initial hit of spiciness from the chili oil and the chili garlic paste. After a few more bites, my wife and I were surprised to find that the sweetness of the bell peppers really mellowed out the bite of the spiciness. The dish really left a nice warm feeling. One final note – since we were re-trying the Chen’s chicken wing dish, we cut the amount of honey in half and left the wings to marinate a day and a half in the refridegerator. My wife thought the marinade and chicken wing flavors were better balanced then when I first did this dish.