One of the great thing about living in Canada is the library. I have no idea why when I lived in the States I insist on buying all my books instead of borrowing from library. Now, I borrow all of my novels from the library that only 3 minutes away from my home by driving. Beside novels, I like to borrow cooking books too. I tried some of the recipes if they are as good as they look then I will buy the book from Amazon or Ebay.
One day I went to the library I saw this book called Secrets from a Chinese Kitchen by Vivienne and Jenny Lo. What capture my attention first is the photo at the front page. A dish with so many fresh chilies! Wow! I never seen a dish using fresh chilies like that. Most of the time Chinese cooking when they want to use whole chilies, they will use dried chilies. And when they want to use fresh chilies, they usually cut them in pieces. But this dish is using fresh chilies even with their stalks still attached. This is unique!
So I borrow it and tried it at home the next day. The special thing about this book is at the bottom of each recipe, there is a section where they called "Our Secret" then they will tell you what is the secret of making this dish in the restaurant.
One thing they forgot to mention is, those fresh chilies do EXPLODE! Not only the smoke are very spicy until my eyes and my nose are watery but those chilies shoot every where like hot missiles! It was so funny, you can hear them popping like crazy and they shoot out from my wok to everywhere. I could not lower the temperature because I couldn't even get close to my wok without getting shot at by the chilies!
So I use my biggest wok's lid as a shield then I proceed slowly and cautiously to my wok. Fast, I close my wok with the lid then I lower the temperature. Phew!!!
How is the result? Not bad, but next time I made this dish again, I am going to use dried chilies. One of the reason why I am so excited of trying to make this dish, here in Vancouver, there is tiny Taiwanese restaurant called Kelvin at Victoria Road and 46th Street I think that nobody except Taiwanese know. It is absolutely the best Taiwanese restaurant in here. Most people when they want to eat Taiwanese food, they usually go to the most famous one called Vogue on Cambie Road in Richmond. Vogue has good food also, and for obvious reason all the waitresses are very sexy and very pretty. What they do not know is that the Vogue's chef was a student of Kelvin's chef/owner. He used to work and learn from Kelvin's. Every time I have guests coming to see us, we will take them to eat there and so far, every guest is very satisfied with Kelvin's food. Very well made and they can be very spicy. One of the dish that we like to order is similar to this dish that I tried but Kelvin makes it with ton of dried chilies and it is crisper. A very hot dish! I am not kidding, the amount of the chicken is less than the amount of the dried chilies, not including the Szechuan peppercorn. For a spicy food lover, this dish is a must!
Since there is no way I can steal the recipe from Kelvin, so this is the best bet I can get to copy that dish. It is not the same, so I will need to tweak and adjust the recipe further to make it closer to Kelvin's.
CHICKEN CHILLI MOUNTAIN
1 lb chicken legs and/ breast
1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and crushed
1 beaten egg white
2 tsp cornstarch
vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 lb whole red chili peppers, with stalks
4 slices ginger finely minced
1 large spring onion finely chopped
2 tsp rock or granulated sugar
1 tbs vinegar ( dark )
1 Tbs dark soy sauce
1 Tbs Shaoxing wine
2 Tbs reduced stock
2 tsp sesame oil
Remove the skin from the chicken. Chop each leg into bite size peces. Give all the meat a good bash with the side of a chopper to loosen up the grain. Chop the breast into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and the sichuan peppercorns. Mix in the beaten egg white and the cornflour, stirring until smooth. Marinate for about 30 minutes.
Heat the wok, then add the oil. When it just begins to smoke, gently lower in the chicken pieces and deep-fry for 2 1/2 minutes until light brown. Move the pieces around to prevent sticking. Scoop out the chicken and set aside. Pour away the oil.
Heat the wok again with 1 tbs oil. Toss in the chili peppers and turn gently in the oil for 30 seconds. Then add the ginger, onions, and chicken, stirring to prevent sticking. Immediately pour in the sugar, a pinch of salt, vinegar, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and stock. When the liquid boils, cover and simmer until almost dry, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Finally stir together and pour into a hot serving dish, arranging the shili in a mountain so that your guests have to root around for the chicken within.
You can control how hot this dish is by selecting the chili peppers carefully. Fat, red ones are milder than the long, thin devils.
And if you try this dish...well...good luck...