All right... it is my turn to wax rhapsodic about the infused oils from Barbara Tropp's China Moon Cookbook (Workman Publishing, 1992.) When Michelle first introduced me to these oils I did not immediately recognize that these items would become staples in my pantry (I should say fridge... oils are perishable. I always keep mine in the refrigerator), but over time, they have. I always have them on hand. I find the flavors to be fresh and complex, and lend themselves to many uses.
In the summer months, I use the oils to dress vegetables, such as steamed green beans, tossed with rice wine vinegar, a little of the Spicy Citrus Chili Oil, olive oil, and finished with a sprinkle of Tamari and a touch of "the goop" from the bottom of the jar and fresh cracked black pepper. Be sure to dress the beans when they are still hot, because they soak up the dressing better. My spicy green beans also make a great appetizer, as well a tasty side dish. The left over beans (if there are any), are great added to a salad the next day. I have fond memories of Michelle giving these beans her highest praise with her classic exclamation, "I could eat these until I throw up!" (FYI or maybe TMI... she also says this about our family's cucumber salad.)
The oils also make an nice addition on top of a log of chevre. Just drizzle the cheese with a little oil of your choice and finish off with finely grated citrus peel, chopped herbs, or chopped roasted and salted peanuts. A touch of Ma-La Oil is a great addition when making your own Arrabiata sauce, if you add just a little when you are sweating the onions, garlic and chiles.
One of my favorite ways to use the Spicy Citrus Chili Oil is in making my own version of Kung Pao Chicken. I add plenty of veggies to my version, and I can make it in a flash without having to have fresh ginger in the pantry. This stir fry makes a delicious and quick weeknight dinner. Get your rice cooking while you marinate your boneless chicken breast pieces, pour yourself a glass of a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc while you chop the veggies, and you will be enjoying a delicious and nutritious hot meal in under an hour.
Kung Pao Chicken with Veggies
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Spicy Citrus Chili Oil with goop
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), cut into pieces for stir fry
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar or agave syrup
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
For stir fry:
2 tablespoons Spicy Citrus Chili Oil (without the goop), or high-heat oil, such as peanut
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
1 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced into half rounds
1 half of a red onion cut into slices
2 cloves of garlic smashed and rough chopped
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts for garnish
chopped scallions for garnish
1. In a non-reactive bowl prepare the marinade. Stir in the chopped chicken pieces. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. For the sauce, stir ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Place infused oil in the wok or cast iron skillet and heat on medium high heat. Add sliced carrots and sauté until they start to carmelize stirring frequently. Then add zucchini and onions. Sauté 2 minutes before adding smashed garlic. Sauté for another 3 minutes before pushing to the side of the pan.
4. Add the marinated chicken breast and sauté on high heat. When the chicken is starting to cook through, incorporate the veggies into the mix. When chicken is done, add sauce and keep on the heat until sauce has thickened slightly. Top with peanuts reserving a few for final garnishing. Serve over rice. Garnish with peanuts and chopped scallions if desired.
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