Today marks the end of Emeril Lagasse's One-Pot Blogger Cooking Party. It's been a great three weeks! Shane and I have discovered some delicious new recipes that will definitely be part a part of our dinner rotation going forward. It has been a pretty big challenge for me to cook and post about so many new dishes in such a short time though. On any given week, we're trying maybe one or two new dinner recipes, and often I don't blog about them until weeks later. That said, it was a lot of fun and I'm glad I had 19 other friends to share the experience with. Meeting so many new food bloggers was a highlight of this experience for me!
I'm not sure what inspired me to make the Kung Pao chicken as my last recipe for the party. Believe it or not, I've never tried the dish before. I am fiercely loyal to the General Tso's chicken from my local Chinese takeout restaurant; in fact, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I've never tried anything else on their menu. I have had other dishes from different Chinese restaurants in the past, but never Kung Pao chicken. For the most part, the ingredient list for this recipe contained items I had on hand and most importantly, the dish was in the wok section of the book so it was relatively quick to throw together. Well, technically, the cooking part was quick (under 10 minutes!), but there was a lot of prep. Veggies to be chopped, sauces and marinades to be put together - it was definitely a fill-the-sink-with-dishes kind of recipe.
I wasn't entirely sure how this one would be received. There were red peppers, which aren't usually popular in our house, and the dish also included a completely new-to-us ingredient: bamboo shoots. I think I expected them to look like bean sprouts so I was surprised to open the can and discover they more closely resembled little sticks of gum. I tasted one before adding them to the pan - no sense in ruining the whole dish if I knew we wouldn't like them. To me they didn't have much flavor on their own, they mostly just added a textural element.
In the end, they were both non-issues, we wound up really enjoying the dish! Dare I say, I even liked the red peppers once they were coated in the sauce? Shane ate both the peppers and bamboo shoots (no one was more surprised than me). The dish didn't have a ton of heat, but no complaints here, as I'm a spicy foods wimp anyway. The white rice was the perfect vehicle for soaking up the extra sauce, I just wish there had been a little more of it. Next time I might double the sauce recipe (or at least 1.5x). I can't say it'll replace General Tso's as my favorite Chinese dish, but I'm glad we tried it and maybe I'll be brave enough to try the restaurant version now for the sake of comparison :)
Unfortunately, I can't share the recipe, but if you can get your hands on a copy of the book, I highly recommend it! Check with your library - they might even have a copy so you can try it. It's my favorite way to test cookbooks before buying. And if you're interested in trying some of your favorite Chinese takeout dishes at home, here are two of my personal favorites:
General Tso's Chicken
PS - I announced the winner of the giveaway for Emeril's Flame Serving Dishes. Click here to find out if it was you!
Posted by Tracey Wilhelmsen at 10:24 AM