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Chinese-Burmese Chili Chicken

burmese chickenServes 3 as a main dish with rice, or 4 as part of a multi-course meal

Ingredients
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thigh or breast, cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick large slices
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small yellow onion, quartered and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares (1 1/3 cups)
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares (1 1/3 cups)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 large Anaheim chili, cut into scant ½-inch thick slices with seeds (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into scant 1/2-inch thick slices (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Directions
1. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the remaining ½ teaspoon cornstarch and 1/3 cup cold water.  In a separate small bowl combine the paprika and cumin.

2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, add the onion, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 30 seconds or until the onions begins to wilt. Push the onions to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed for 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Stir-fry 30 seconds or until the chicken is almost completely opaque. Add the ginger, garlic, and the paprika mixture, and stir-fry 1 minute or until the aromatics are fragrant and the chicken is well coated in the spices.

3. Add the red and green bell peppers, reduce the heat to medium and stir-fry 2 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Do not be alarmed if the spices stick a little to the bottom of the wok. Add the fish sauce, chilies, zucchini, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry 1 minute or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.

4. Re-stir the cornstarch mixture, swirl it into the wok, increase the heat to high, and stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is just done and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the chili powder. Serves 3 as a main dish with rice or 4 as part of a multi-course meal.

COOK’S NOTES

How to season a wok:

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 bunch of scallions cut into 3-inch pieces (Make sure scallions are not wet. Any moisture will cause the spattering when added to the wok.
1/2 cup unpeeled sliced ginger

1. Thoroughly wash the inside and outside of a carbon-steel wok with liquid dishwashing soap and hot water using a stainless steel scrubber. This should take quite awhile; there is a coating on the new wok that needs to be removed. Rinse with hot water. Dry the wok thoroughly with paper towels then place over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to make sure the pan is totally dry.

2. Open the window and turn the exhaust fan on high speed. Heat the wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. The bottom of the pan may turn color. Swirl in the oil and add the scallions and ginger. Reduce heat to medium and stir-fry 20 minutes, using a spatula to push the mixture up the sides of the wok to the edge.

Do not be alarmed if the pan darkens or becomes mottled. If the mixture becomes dry add an additional tablespoon or two of oil. Remove from heat and allow the wok to cool. Discard the scallions and ginger.

3. Wash the wok with hot water using a soft sponge. Dry the wok over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. The wok is seasoned and ready for cooking.

 

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Thanks to

Fairway for donating all the food | Chantal for the cookware | Le Creuset for the Dutch ovens | Wustoff for the knives | Boos for the cutting boards | Kitchen Aid for the appliances | Oxo for the small kitchen tools |

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