Chilli Beef or Chilli Chicken Dry recipe is easily the most popular dish on Pakistani-Chinese restaurant menus. The meat and heat loving Pakistani palates have taken the basic stir fry and gravy concepts of Chinese food and tweaked them to suit local tastebuds. That is why Pakistani-Chinese food has become a whole genre in itself.
Now we are all familiar with the pleasures of Chinese food – the incomparable feeling of comfort associated with it. Usually what we get from Chinese restaurants and takeaways are dishes loaded with oil and MSG, they mostly deep fry and generously add ajinomoto (a tastemaker) that gives the food it’s typical heightened comfort food effect. While they are only concerned about the commercial aspect of their food, we home cooks are more worried about the nutrition profile of what we feed our families.
While trying to make healthier versions of Chinese food at home, what we end up is good food mostly, but it doesn’t have the same crispy texture and the glossy sauce that coats the crispy crunchy pieces of meat and vegetables. Learning a few tricks of the trade can deliver taste with health.
I neither deep fry nor add MSG to my recipe. But after many experiments I’ve discovered that a closer taste can be created by increasing the quantity of garlic and ginger in the recipes which are actually beneficial health wise too.
Instead of deep frying, using proper stir fry method makes the food taste and crisp up better. For that it’s preferable to use a big metallic wok. Coat the wok with oil and heat it to a right temperature before adding food. Always heat the pan/wok on high because it’s the hot metal coming in contact with the ingredients that gives the typical Asian stir fry taste.
Never overcrowd the pan, overcrowding produces steam instead of dry heat and makes the food soggy. Fry in batches if frying a big quantity.
Always prepare and keep all the ingredients ready at hand. Stir fry is a quick process. Staying organised will save the food from getting overcooked.
Next time you have that Chinese take out craving, make your own Dry Chilli Chicken at home, save yourself some calories and extra salt and marvel at the fact that it tastes a lot better than any take out!
1/2 kg boneless chicken
4 large green chilli peppers, halved,seeds removed
1 green bell pepper, cut into cubes
1 onion, cut into cubes
4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese hot sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Sunflower or sesame oil
This Is What You Do:
Make a slurry with cornflour, soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Cut boneless chicken into small cubes or almond size pieces. Marinate in the paste for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a wok or frying pan on high heat. Make sure to coat the bottom and sides of wok/frying pan with oil so that the chicken doesn’t stick.
Remove chicken from the marinade (save the marinade) and fry till golden and crispy on the outside. Remove from wok, set aside.
Add chopped ginger and garlic to the same wok. Stir Fry on high heat a few seconds or till aromatic.
Add onions, green chilli peppers and bell pepper, continue to stir fry for a couple of minutes till the vegetables are crisp tender.
Add chicken back to the pan. Add the marinade, hot sauce, tomato sauce, honey and more salt and pepper (if required).
Toss everything to coat with the glossy sauce.
Sprinkle sesame seeds and serve hot with rice or noodles.