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Year of the Dog: 2018

9 Jan

Chinese New Year starts Feb. 16.

We are a wee bit obsessed with longevity noodles, five-spice soy chicken, and shrimp with melon.

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Dynamite shrimp copycat

26 Jan

dynamite shrimp

Further along in the P.F. Chang’s project:

Menu says: Dynamite Shrimp. Tempura-battered, tossed in a light, spicy sriracha aioli.

Their twitter account says:  The perfect mix of sweet and spicy.4516_107753535574_5652992_n

Old recipe forum comment says this: “I have worked for PF Changs at several locations for many years, and although similar in a few ingredients the dynamite shrimp differs from the crispy green bean sauce. Perhaps they have the dynamite shrimp sauce confused with the sichuan flatbread sauce, which includes the green bean sauce in its dipping sauce. dont waste your time making the dynamite shrimp, its a mayo-chipotle sauce…where the green bean dip is a sriracha mayo…good luck!”

Some online copy cat versions we found are calling for Kewpie mayo, sriracha, honey, chipotle powder and green onion for the top. But keen on either chipotle powder or a shake of chipotle hot sauce.

How lazy is this: we purchased popcorn shrimp from a local take out joint and tumbled it in this P.F. Chang’s sauce clone at home.

First time out, we blended some mayo with sriracha, sesame oil and a dash of rice wine vinegar. It was fantastic. But so rich!

Next time: We’ll ditch the oil and vinegar and go for sweet/rice wine tasting Kewpie with a shake of chipotle hot sauce and sriracha.

PF Chang’s Spicy Chicken

17 Jan

spicy chic 2A winner. How fun this copycat recipe project has been. There is a common clone version of P.F. Chang’s Spicy Chicken floating around the web. You can spot it when you see the pineapple juice listed among the ingredients. It’s wrong.

The menu says: Lightly dusted and stir-fried in a sweet Sichuan sauce. Our version of General Tso’s and always a favorite.

Seeing is believing. Theirs looks amazing:

PFChangs_ChangsSpicyChicken

This clone version is a delight. You’ll feel the tingle on your lips long after you’ve eaten. We like that the sauce isn’t too saucy: just enough to cling to the chicken. And we like how clean the flavours are: no overly-salty soy here. We served with rice and steamed carrots and broccoli and it was heavenly.

Plus, we love the insider feel of the “house white sauce” and “Chang’s sauce” we found in recipe forums. Enjoy!

PF CHANG’S SPICY CHICKEN COPYCAT
Adapted from cooks.com LladyRusty “from P.F. Chang’s, Roseville, California – Executive Chef D. J. Cheeks”

10 oz chicken breasts or a regular package of thighs, cut into big bite sized chunks
potato starch
canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup green onion
2 teaspoons sriracha or sambel olek
2 tbsp Chang’s house white sauce (chicken stock with a touch of oyster sauce)
Chang’s sauce: 2 tbsp sugar with 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Lightly coat chicken with potato starch.
Mix sauce and stir to melt sugar.
Brown chicken on both sides in batches.
Remove from pan, pour in sauce, stir, add chicken back to pan. Sauce should cling to chicken.

Mongolian Beef Copycat

11 Jan

mongolian beef plateABOVE: Us. BELOW: Them.

Mongolian beef has a cult following online. There’s good reason. It’s fantastic. Sweet, soy-glazed flank steak wok-seared with scallions and garlic, the menu describes.
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P.F. Chang’s once posted its own gluten-free recipe on its website, calling for a much simpler and drier version with just 2 fl oz of soy sauce to 2 tbsp sugar with just 1 tsp rice vinegar. The sauce is supposed to cling to the meat: no pools of sweet sauce there.

The copy cat recipe variations floating around the web are drowning in sauce. But it is delicious. This dish is RICH. Serve a few lovely bites with accompanying dumplings or steamed veg rather than tucking into heaping bowls of the stuff (like we did.).

Let us declare: we are not in the “1 cup of oil for frying” camp. And while you’re basically aiming for beef caramel, we prefer 1/2 cup brown sugar to the 3/4 cup recipe.
mongolian beef

P.F. CHANG’S MONGOLIAN BEEF COPYCAT
(adapted from Food.com)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, as needed
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup light/low sodium soy sauce (we’re going to cut back slightly by watering it down a touch).
½ cup water
1/2 heaping cup dark brown sugar

Optional sauce ingredients:
black pepper
1 tsp cooking sherry
splash of rice vinegar

1/2 tsp sesame oil, for finishing
1 lb flank steak (we bought two packages of pre-sliced stirfry beef around $6 each)
¼ cup potato starch (Bob’s Red Mill) or cornstarch
2 or 3 large green onions, chopped into 2-inch batons

Mix sauce ingredients (ginger, garlic, soy, water, brown sugar – add black pepper, splash of sherry and rice vinegar if using) we used our pyrex 2-cup measuring cup and set aside until after beef is cooked.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a 45-degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.  Dust the pieces on both sides with potato or cornstarch. Let the beef sit, and heat skillet. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and heat to medium, not smoking. Brown the beef in batches. It will release from the pan when the crust forms. Flip and brown the other side. No need to cook all the way through: it will finish cooking in the sauce later. Reserve browned meat on a clean plate as you cook in batches. Add more oil to pan as needed. When all the beef is browned, turn burner heat down only slightly, give a stir to your reserved sauce, and quickly start deglazing the pan with it. It should bubble up and foam immediately like you’re making candy. Stir and lift up all the browned bits in the pan and watch for sauce to thicken slightly. Add beef and stir to coat each piece. There should be quite a bit of sauce, which will continue to thicken from the beef’s cornstarch crust. Add sesame oil and chopped green onion batons at final minute. If you add too early, the onions lose their bright green appearance. Serve over rice.

Be warned: this is a rich dish, so go easy on adding the gravy. This is best presented as part of a larger meal: steamed veg, dumplings, other dishes. A few delectable bites is heavenly. Too much and you’ll find it overwhelming.

New Year, New Obsession

8 Jan

In a renewed effort to rid ourselves of recipe clippings and clutter, we have a new theme for the next few months.

PF Chang’s copycat recipes.

We’ve been hoarding mountains of clippings over the years. Such a charity case: there is no PF Chang’s anywhere near us.

So memories from Vegas and Palm Desert will have to suffice.

Once and for all, we’re going to knock off one of these clones weekly.

And oddly, we’re starting with a dish we’ve never tried, and no longer exists on the menu. Dali Chicken.

It features a savory garlic chili and cumin sauce. “Our spiciest chicken dish served with sliced potatoes and leeks.” But it’s the menu photo that really grabbed our attention. Those chili pods. The leeks.
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This is a superb winter dish. Warming and spicy. And we love that it isn’t sugar-laden. It comes together very quickly. Recipe forums have occasionally sported comments from former employees who divulged the “white sauce” component: chicken broth mixed with a bit of oyster sauce. Thanks for the tip!

This photo doesn’t do it justice (where are those chili pods and leeks, you ask. Green onions and rooster sauce. Still delish. This deserves a redo!)

pf changs dali chicken

DALI CHICKEN
PF CHANG’S COPYCAT

1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced (We used 2 breasts)
1 yukon gold potato, thinly sliced Into half moons (photos show thin slices and 1/4 inch thick, so we haven’t decided which is better.
Leek or 4 scallions, sliced into one inch diagonals
6 to 8 dried chili pods
1 tsp ground, toasted cumin
4 tablespoons chicken stock (our potatoes thickened this up)
2 tablespoons Oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tsp grated ginger and 3 cloves garlic
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili garlic paste (Sambal Oelek or Rooster) we used 1/4 tsp and it still has zing
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for stir frying
Black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Toss potato slices in oil and roast in a long pyrex baking dish until browned on bottom.
Steam rice. Meanwhile, slice chicken and leeks. Mix stock, garlic, ginger, oyster sauce, Sherry, vinegar, soy sauce and chili garlic paste in a bowl and combine. Set aside.
Heat a wok or saute pan and add oil. Add dried chilies. Cook until pods darken slightly. (While this dish highlights a good spicy zing, if you live with spice wimps, you can omit. It’s not the same, but the flavours are still enjoyable.)
Add chicken and stir fry. Add cumin and continue to stir fry until chicken turns opaque.
Stir in sauce and let it bubble. Add potatoes and stir to fully coat with sauce.
Stir in the scallions or leeks. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Shrimp Obsession

29 Mar

We can’t kick our fascination with this stir fried shrimp with its odd-to-us pairing of honeydew melon balls and candied whole walnuts tossed in a creamy sauce (which we fear is mayo-based):
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PF Chang’s menu describes its Walnut Shrimp with Melon as “Tossed in citrus Asian aioli with warm candied walnuts and cool honeydew melon”

Many online copycats claim to have cracked the PF Changs’ code, but we’re skeptical.

1/2 C Coconut Milk
1/4 C Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Tbs Mayonnaise, slightly heaping
1 1/2 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1/8 tsp Turmeric
Dash Celery Salt

Whisk over a low heat until warm.

We’ve also seen this:
1/2 tbsp condensed milk
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsps mayonnaise

Flaming Red Wontons

25 Nov

We aren’t anywhere near P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Triple Happiness happy hour. Sob! So we were excited to find a recipe for Flaming Red Wontons.

But after reading instructions to place a “pea-sized mound of meat” on each skin, we questioned how that size would measure up: If 3/4 of a pound of filling makes eight dumplings, surely the mounds will be bigger than a pea.

No matter. Can’t think of a better winter snack with a steaming cup of tea.

P.F. CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO FLAMING RED WONTONS
Makes 8 pork dumplings in a spicy garlic and sesame soy sauce finished with scallions and pickled chili peppers.

Won Ton Filling:
1/2 pound shrimp, washed, peeled, deveined and finely minced
1/4 pound pork, trimmed, finely minced
2 tablespoons carrot, finely minced
2 tablespoons green onion, finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

wonton skins

Green onions to garnish
Cilantro leaves to garnish
Black sesame seeds to garnish

Sauce:
1 cup soy sauce
1 ounce white vinegar
1/2 ounce chile oil
1/2 teaspoon chile paste
1 ounce granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
Sesame oil to taste
1 cup chicken stock

Combine shrimp and pork mixtures. Make sure the mixture is smooth and not lumpy. If you have a food processor, use it for the mix. With a small spoon, place a pea-sized (?@!) mound of meat mixture into the won ton skin.

Moisten the top and bottom corners. Fold over and seal.

Place on a plate, cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Combine sauce ingredients and mix very well. Prepare garnishes.

Have a soup pot filled with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower to a slight boil. Heat the entire batch of sauce.

Cook won tons in boiling chicken stock for approximately 2 minutes or until won tons float to the surface. Cook until skins are soft. With a strainer, remove won tons into soup bowl.

Remember to mix sauce well before you ladle it over the won tons, then ladle 1 ounce of sauce over the won tons.

Top each wonton with a small blob of pickled chili sauce or Rooster sauce. Garnish with green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds and serve.

Servings: 4