When a western person cooks an Asian stir fry at home, there are two possible sauce protocols. Most commonly, they’ll push their chicken and veg around the wok and then empty a Blue Dragon or Lee Kum sachet over it. The other protocol, with a more ambitious individual, will be a haphazard combination of soy, oyster, black bean and plum sauce plus a spoonful of that stuff bought on the last trip to the Chinese supermarket; the English label’s come unstuck so the devil knows what it is; the result is either inedible or bland de bland.
I wish I could spend some time living in San Francisco only for the takeaways from Chinatown – I’d be too baffled in People’s Republic itself, hence a safe but reputable option. What little I have tasted from Chinatown there was a few leagues above many London places in terms of flavour and character. Maybe it has to be dog meat with lashings of MGS? Just joking.
I was inordinately pleased with this dish because – all hail! – it tasted different, better and more decisively oriental. I’m no expert, obviously, but the sauce made perfect harmony with the small diced chicken and the many, many, frighteningly many peanuts.
Reviewing, I upped spring onions vs. the original simply because they look nice in the brownish sauce. Dried chilies and Sichuan peppers are my favourite heat explosion; make sure you stand back when they land in the hot wok. I’m tempted to try salted peanuts next time because the salt content was the only factor I felt wanting. The peanuts may or may not be toasted – I did but admit they can well go in pale. But man, watch it cause they do make the dish as monstrously calorific as it is tasty!