Woks cookin’, good lookin’?

Chinese food is one of those things that until the age of 18 I thought simply existed in shops, restaurants, and take-aways; it wasn’t something that was made, it was just something that existed. Like crumpets. And ironed clothes. And an endless supply of toilet roll. As you grow up, these illusions are shattered. Some for the better, some for the worse.

The realisation that tasty, quick, hot-as-hell Chinese food can be produced in my very kitchen has certainly proved to be one of the positives of growing up.

Since this realisation I have sporadically hit the wok hard. Right now I am going through what my Mum would call a ‘phase’. But I don’t care! Because, man, I love my Szechuan Chilli (Quorn) Chicken.

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Note on the recipe: the tomato ketchup may seem odd, but it is simply a shortcut for the sweet and sour elements in this dish. Try it. It works.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2):

For the sauce:

4 garlic cloves, in chunks
Thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled, in chunks
3 red chillies, chopped (reduce this if you want less of a kick)
½ red pepper, de-seeded, sliced into strips
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
5 tbsp water
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp light brown sugar

For the chicken:

1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 pack Quorn chicken pieces (or similar)
1 courgette, sliced into strips
½ red pepper, de-seeded, sliced into strips
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 large spring onions, sliced lengthways

RECIPE (adapted from Chinese Food Made Easy by Ching-he Huan):

For the sauce, place all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

For the Quorn chicken, heat a wok until smoking and add the groundnut oil, then add the chicken and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Add the courgette and red pepper and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

Then pour in the sauce and bring to the boil.

Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Season with the soy sauce, and pile onto a serving plate.

Garnish with the spring onions and serve immediately, with jasmine rice or, as I did, with egg fried rice.

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MY EXPERIENCE:

As with most of my ‘phases’, a bottle of Pinot played a role starting my obsession. Treated to a lovely meal in China town, I hit the bottle, then passed on desert in favour of a shopping trip. To the Chinese supermarket. I left with a huge wok, 25 sets of chopsticks and enough jasmine rice for you all to come for tea. And a custard bun.

Best. Night. Ever.

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