Recently, our happy group delighted in chicken lettuce wraps and dynamite shrimp, followed by coconut curry vegetables with crispy silken tofu and peanuts in a coconut curry sauce, shrimp with candied walnuts tossed in a creamy sauce (which we fear is mayo-based) and honeydew melon balls.
We’d returned from southern California for one day before a craving struck. And that craving was for orange peel chicken. The menu describes it as tossed with chili peppers and fresh orange peel for a spicy, citrus combination. We tried this recipe, and it is bang on.
PF CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO ORANGE PEEL CHICKEN
Top Secret Restaurant Recipes Volume Two
1 T oil
2 T minced or sliced garlic
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (we’ve been using brown)
2 T chili garlic/Rooster sauce
1 T soy sauce
juice of half an orange
1/2 cup oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup cornstarch
peel from 1/4 orange, julienned into 1/8 in. strips
Prepare sauce by heating 1 T of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and green onions. Add tomato sauce and water quickly before the garlic burns. Add sugar, chili sauce, orange juice and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer 5-6 minutes or until sauce thickens, then turn off the heat.
Prepare the chicken by heating 1/2 cup oil in a wok over medium heat. Slice chicken breast into bite size pieces. Coat each piece with cornstarch. Arrange chicken on a plate until all chicken is coated. When oil in the wok is hot, add half the chicken to the oil and cook for a couple of minutes or until brown on one side, then flip. When chicken is golden brown, remove the pieces to a rack to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken. When all chicken is cooked rinse the oil out of the wok with water and place it back on the stove to heat up.
(Note: I used a frying pan and only two tablespoons of oil to nicely brown and crisp the chicken chunks. Then I added the orange peel, followed by a few ladlefulls of sauce, which boiled furiously and was left clinging to the chicken.)
When wok is hot again add orange peel and chicken. Heat for 20-30 seconds, stirring gently. Add sauce to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir to coat. Cook until the sauce thickens then serve with rice on the side.
PF CHANG’S LETTUCE WRAPS
•8 dried Shiitake mushrooms
•2 teaspoons cooking sherry
•2 teaspoons water
•1 teaspoon soy sauce
•1 teaspoon cornstarch
•salt and pepper to taste
•1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces or ground chicken
•5 tablespoons vegetable oil
•1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
•2 cloves minced garlic
•2 chopped green onions
•8 oz can bamboo shoots, chopped up
•8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
•2 small dried chilies (optional)
•1 package of Chinese cellophane rice noodles, cooked according to instructions on the package
•Iceberg lettuce leaves
Lettuce Wrap Sauce:
•2 tablespoons oyster sauce
•1 1/2 tablespoons water
•1 tablespoon cooking sherry
•1 tablespoon soy sauce
•1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
•2 teaspoons cornstarch
•1 teaspoon sugar
•1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pour enough boiling water over dried mushrooms to cover. Let soak for 30 minutes, then drain. After the mushrooms have soaked, remove any woody stems and chop up the mushrooms.
While waitng for the mushrooms to finish soaking, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sherry, water, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir together until chicken is well coated.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil. After the oil gets hots, add the chicken mixture. Fry quickly for about 3 minutes, or til chicken is no longer pink. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Remove chicken.
To the same skillet, add 2 more tablespoons of oil. Add the fresh ginger, garlic, green onions, and optional chilies, if desired. Fry quickly for 45-60 seconds, or til garlic is a golden color. Do not overcook garlic, or it will taste bitter. Add the dried mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Fry quickly for about 2 minutes.
Return chicken to the skillet. Add the sauce ingredients to the same skillet. Cook until the sauce thickens.
Break the cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces. Spread the noodles onto the bottom of a platter. Pour the chicken mixture on top of the noodles. Spoon into lettuce leafs. Roll up chicken lettuce wraps and secure with toothpicks. See if this doesn’t taste just like the PF Chang lettuce wrap recipe to you.
PF CHANG’S COCONUT CURRY VEGETABLES
For the Tofu
2 tablespoons sesame oil
12 ounces package extra firm water-packed tofu (although menu describes crispy fried silken tofu)
1 small onion, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 small red bell pepper, cubed
1 cup halved mushrooms
4 ounces (3 cups) cauliflower or broccoli florets
1 cup thinly sliced carrots or whole sugar snap peas
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 Tbl. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 – 2 Tbl. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 cup peanuts
2 Tbl. canola oil for stir-frying
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 Tbl. cold water mixed together in small bowl.
Drain the tofu, cube and fry in 1 tablespoon oil until brown. Set aside.
Separately blanch the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and sugar snap peas until tender-crisp in plain boiling water. Drain and flush with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again.
Combine the coconut-curry sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust the sugar to your liking.
Heat a wok or wide skillet over high heat until hot. Add the canola oil, swirl to glaze the pan, then add the onions and bell pepper. Stir-fry until tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir until hot, a few minutes more. Add the blanched vegetables and toss to mix.
Stir the sauce and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, tossing to combine.
Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine and add it to the pan. Stir until the sauce turns glossy, about 10 seconds (a bit longer if you`re doubling the sauce).
Add the peanuts.
Serve with rice, noodles, or a warm loaf of bread.
Use a milder or hotter curry powder to vary the spice.
For a really saucy dish to serve over rice or noodles, double the sauce ingredients and the cornstarch mixture.
Disclosure: we’ve never tried this, but suspect it would be very yummy.
PF CHANG’S CRISPY HONEY SHRIMP
We’re not big on battered anything, so we’ll try this with a dusting on cornstarch or flour.
1 lb shrimp, butterflied
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup ice water or soda water
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup sake or rice wine (mirin)
1/ 3 cup honey
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic
Cornstarch slurry–1/4 cup corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup water
To make batter: mix ingredients till just combined. Let rest in refrigerator for a couple of hours. Coat shrimp with seasonings and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Pour vegetable oil into fryer or heavy bottomed sauce pot. Heat slowly to 340-350 degrees. Batter shrimp a little at a time. Shake off excess batter. Carefully place shrimp into the hot oil. Shrimp is done when golden to light brown and crisp. Remove to platter with paper towels to drain. Repeat for all the shrimp. Remember to check the oil temperature, it must remain hot.
Mix sauce ingredients in small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Add cornstarch slurry, a little at a time (you will not need all of it). The sauce will thicken, let it come to a thickness of “loose honey.” Let cook for a minute or two.
Serve sauce on side for dipping or drizzle over top.