Kung Pao Shrimp
Recipe courtesy of Vegetables Illustrated from Cook's Illustrated
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For the sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl; set aside.
For the shrimp: Toss shrimp with rice wine and soy sauce in bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and ginger in small bowl; set aside. Combine peanuts and chiles in second small bowl; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add shrimp and cook, stirring every 10 seconds, until barely opaque, 30 to 40 seconds. Add peanut mixture and continue to cook until shrimp are almost completelr opaque and peanuts have darkened slightlv, 30 to 40 seconds. Transfer mixture to dean bowl.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 45 seconds. Push bell pepper to sides of skillet. Add garlic mixture to center and cook, mashing mixture into pan, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir mixture into bell pepper. Stir shrimp mixture and any accumulated juices into bell pepper mixture in skillet. Whisk sauce to recombine, add to skillet, and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits, until sauce has thickened to syrupy consistency, about 45 seconds. Stir in scallions and serve immediately.
Why This Recipe Works: Sweet, spicy, and iconic, kung pao is a classic Sichuan preparation that is distinguished by its use of peanuts, vegetables, and chile peppers. Chicken is the most typically used protein in the dish, but for our version we decided to infuse delicate shrimp with the bold flavor of the kung pao sauce. The dry-roasted peanuts, stirred in at the end of the shrimp's cooking time, added plenty of crunchy texture and nutty flavor. For the vegetables, we kept it simple, focusing on sweet peppers and scallions; we sautéed the red bell peppers to give them a touch of char, and stirred in the scallions at the end to retain their oniony punch. The sauce thickened just a bit as it cooked, giving the dish the requisite silky consistency. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes for the arbol chiles. Do not eat the whole chiles in the finished dish. Serve with rice.