Chinese food is my weakness. Since moving to Colorado, I’ve been cooking these types of meals at home a great deal more. The options here, as compared to New York, are limited and more expensive. I was so happy to come across Family Style Chinese Cookbook and I thought it would be perfect fit to share here at Sunday Supper Movement. Crispy Chicken and Red Chiles would make a great Weekday Supper.
Shanti Christensen, the author of this book, was the food editor for Time Out Beijing as well as the writer of the Show Shanti blog. Even with these experiences under her belt, she still longed to learn more about Chinese culture and cuisine in a deeper way. She especially wanted to develop more of an understanding of the family dynamic. She traveled throughout China, spending time with different families while collecting their treasured recipes. Family Style Chinese Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from My Culinary Journey Through China is not only a cookbook but, as you might guess from the full title, also shares engaging stories about her travels.
What I love about this book is that the recipes are quite easy to follow and varied. Dumpling Wrappers, Handmade Noodles and other staples are all covered so that if you wished to make a project of a meal on the weekend or when time permits, you can. Recipes for all our favorites are here as well: Sesame Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Twice Cooked Pork, and Pork and Cabbage Dumplings. There are also many dishes that I am unfamiliar with such as Spinach Bundles with Sesame Sauce and Shepherd’s Purse and Rice Cakes that will be fun to experiment with.
The book is organized in chapters beginning with My Kitchen, The Basics, Appetizers & Side Dishes, Soups & Salads, Poultry, Meat, Fish & Seafood, Tofu & Vegetables and ending with Rice & Noodles. I appreciate that these dishes come from the people Shanti met while in China. Some recipes may require a trip to the Asian market for ingredients like fried gluten balls (can also be found on Amazon), lotus root (not a single grocery store here carries it), long beans and celtuce (steam lettuce or Taiwanese lettuce – although for celtuce you may substitute broccoli stems).
I chose to make Crispy Chicken with Red Chiles which is a little like General Tso’s. It was fast and easy and tasted so good. My son likes a little more breading so I made my version with a double dip into the potato starch. This meal is very doable on a weeknight if you do a little advance work like putting the sauce ingredients together and making the marinade the night before. The chicken was crispy and the flavor of the sauce was so good. My husband said it was the best Chinese I’ve made to date.
Overall, this is an interesting book on Chinese cuisine, approachable by any level cook and also provides a fun read.
- 2 pounds chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine or dry sherry
- 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 cup potato starch
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon ground red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Peanut oil, for deep-frying
- 10 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons chili bean paste
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup dried red chiles
- In a large bowl, add the chicken pieces, cooking wine, and soy sauce, toss to coat, and let sit to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- In a small, shallow bowl, combine the potato starch, ground peppercorns, chili powder, and salt.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, a few pieces at a time (shaking off excess marinade), dredge in the spiced starch mixture, and put on a plate.
- In a wok over high heat, add 2 inches of peanut oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Fry the chicken, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes until golden. (If you have an instant deep-fry thermometer, a reading for chicken doneness should be between and 375°F.)
- Deep-fry the chicken in two to three batches, allowing enough room for the chicken to cook on all sides. As they cook, drain the chicken pieces on a paper towel–lined plate.
- Once all the chicken is fried, transfer the remaining oil to a heat-proof jar or bowl. Return 3 tablespoons of oil to the wok.
- With the wok still on high heat, heat the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
- Add the ground peppercorns, chili bean paste, and ginger, and stir-fry until the sauce becomes a saffron red.
- Return the chicken pieces to the wok and toss to coat with the sauce. Add the salt and dried red chiles, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Serve hot.
cess, the center will stay tender while the outside becomes crisp.
SUBSTITUTION TIP: You can replace the potato starch with cornstarch.
SERVING TIP: If you can find large, dried Sichuan chile peppers (also known as lantern chiles), scatter a couple handfuls into a deep serving dish. Then serve this dish over the chiles. This way, you will experience what I did in China—hunting for chicken in a sea of dried chiles—but with more chicken!
©2016 Shanti Christensen -This recipe is reproduced here with permission from the publisher.
Editor’s note: This recipe is printed courtesy of the publisher. The author of this review received a copy of the cookbook, Family Style Chinese Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from My Culinary Journey Through China. No other compensation was received from the publisher. Links to the cookbook are affiliate links.
Many thanks to the publisher Rockridge Press, an imprint of Callisto Media who is sponsoring one copy of this wonderful cookbook for a giveaway, open to US residents only. Please check out the book on Amazon and leave a comment on the post – Which recipe from Family Style Chinese Cookbook would you try first? – to enter. The rafflecopter has several options for earning more chances to win! The more you do, the better your chances. No purchase necessary. The winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not respond in 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.
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