Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gong Pao and Chinese vegetables

About a year ago if someone asked us who usually cooked in our house, we could answer that I usually cooked "western" food and Jon usually cooked if we have "Chinese " food.  It  occurred to me that we will have lived in China for years, and I could not cook Chinese food.  It is not that hard to cook Chinese food.  I needed to learn.  The best way to learn is by doing.  So I have been cooking Chinese food more.  It is also much cheaper to cook Chinese food here.  I have found that the kids really like this dish.  I call it Gong pao, because I add peanuts it is not exactly like what you can get in a restaurant.  Many times this dish is spicy and you could make it spicier, but my kids don't really like spicy.

Cut up some boneless chicken into bite size (or chopstick size) chunks.  Add some Hoisin sauce.  You can easily find this sauce in the US, and here, the word Hoisin is almost always on the label in English.
I add about 1/2 the jar or at least a couple of big spoonfuls to the chicken.

Mix the sauce into the chicken and let it marinate for a while.  

I usually chop a green pepper and onion and add.  I also usually add a chopped carrot.  If Bamboo or something like that is in season, I chop that up and add to the mix. You can add lots of different things here.  Carrots usually take a little while to cook, so I sometimes cook them a few minutes first.  If I don't they stay a little crunchy, but that is ok too. I do add a little bit of oil to the wok so things do not stick.

Keep stirring and cooking over medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through.  If there is any left over sauce from the marinade add it now.

I like to mix up a little corn starch in some water and add that to mix too.  It helps the sauce turn thicker.  You could skip this part if you want.

Look at that lovely brown sauce!  I add the peanuts now if I am going to and just stir until they are heated up a bit.
This is very tasty over plain white rice.

The other day, we were in the grocery store and these lovely greens were on sale for less than 2 kuai for a box.  (less than 50cents!)  I LOVE Chinese vegetables.  They have so many different kinds of greens, vegetables, and cabbages.

In the US so many of us do not like greens or cooked Spinach because we really do not know how to cook them properly.  I am still working on how to do this right.  I have a tendency to over cook them.  I am trying to learn.

This dish is very simple.  In the US, you could probably use spinach.  If you had to you could just get one of those bags of greens in the produce section (shudder), but it would be much cheaper if you buy it not in a bag.
Ingredients: greens, chopped garlic, and soy sauce, maybe a little salt.

Wash your greens well.  They are plants! They could have bugs or dirt on them.  That is good, but I don't want to eat bug or dirt.
Cook them in a wok with the garlic until they wilt down.  Then add some soy sauce, and salt if you need to.  Be careful here.  Soy sauce is already salty.  

I don't worry about soy sauce, salt and oil here because we have a very healthy diet.  I only add a little. You could use low sodium soy sauce if you wish.   What good is healthy food if it tastes bad and you won't eat it.  

The trick to stir fry is to keep the food moving.  If you feel like this is starting to stick, you can add a little bit of water.  I do not use oil in this dish.

Ok, not the prettiest, but it was pretty yummy.  It may have been a tad over cooked, but it was not bitter. I like my greens to still have a tiny bit of crunch in the stems.  

If you were to start cooking greens and cabbage, you kids may not like them much, but see if they will try it.  The more they are exposed to different foods, the more likely they are to start liking them. 
This dish is not my kids favorite, but they will eat a little.  

They love the Gung pao (or kung Pow!)

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