Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken

I have a confession to make. Before posting the Prologue, I had already made five of the recipes from Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. Unfortunately and mostly due to absent-mindedness, I didn’t take pictures of a couple of them. I will be repeating those recipes at a later date and will post a full write-up here.

If you are referencing the Wok Wednesdays recipe schedule, you’ll find that I’ll be a little out of sync with it until such time as I remake those missed recipes, but for the most part you can use that as an indication of what to expect in coming weeks. But for now, on to the show.

Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken (p. 140) is the second recipe that I made with this new toy of mine. Of course, before endeavoring on this project, I had to stock up:

The arsenal

The arsenal.

Tools in hand, it was time to dive into what was my first stir-fry to incorporate meat. Given my initial experience with the wok (coming in a later post), I took care to ensure every ingredient was at the ready and steeled myself for the whirlwind of wok cooking.

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Although it looks pretty good there, I made a few tactical errors in this dish. First was not reading the recipe thoroughly enough. The chicken is to be marinated briefly in cornstarch, oil, salt and pepper. I mistakenly omitted the salt and pepper and instead put it into the dry spice bowl with the paprika and cumin. In addition, I put the chili powder into this bowl as well, when in fact you are supposed to add it at the end of the dish.

Second, I think I used too much oil at the start before putting in the onions. I chalk this up to inexperience and the fact that I was pouring from a full bottle of peanut oil rather than from a dispenser which would have provided more control. This caused the onions to not caramelize as much as I’d like and also they would not stay up on the side of the pan when making room for the chicken. I think this also contributed to a dish that was more wet during cooking than the recipe seems to indicate. So when it came time to put in the cornstarch/water mixture for thickening, it took a lot longer for the liquids to cook off.

As a result, the vegetables weren’t as crisp as they could have been. However, the overall flavor was very nice with a mild touch of heat and made a satisfying meal served over rice.

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What I Would Do Differently

Well, besides putting the right spices in the right places at the right times according to the actual recipe (c’mon, man!), there are a few things I’d change.

  • Add more heat. It simply wasn’t spicy enough. I’d introduce more chili powder, cayenne, or even some red pepper flake. I like it spicy.
  • Use a bit more salt than the recipe calls for. Although, this could just be a byproduct of not putting it on the chicken at the start. The extra liquid could have been a factor as well.
  • Take it easy on the oil! Although heat of the stove’s range could have been a factor, I feel the stir-fry definitely had too much liquid introduced that kept it from being all it could be.

In the event that I try this recipe again, I’ll be sure to incorporate my changes and write an addendum to this post describing the results.

Next on the Menu: Chinese Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice

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