Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 4.

Note: This classic Szechuan stir-fry dish can be made with shrimp, pork, beef or even tofu, as well as chicken. This is a simple stir-fry with just a few ingredients — chicken, chiles, minimal vegetables and crunchy peanuts for texture. The complex flavors come from the marinating and seasoning sauces, which contain half of the “eight immortal flavors” in Chinese cooking — salt, sweet, hot and fragrant. Many of the ingredients can be found in Asian markets, or in the Asian section of large supermarkets. From “The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible,” by Dave DeWitt and Nancy Gerlach.

• 1 tbsp. rice wine or dry sherry

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. light soy sauce, divided

• 3 tsp. sugar, divided

• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-size pieces

• 1/4 c. chicken broth

• 2 tbsp. Asian chile sauce with garlic (see Note)

• 2 tbsp. hoisin sauce (see Note)

• 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. hot bean sauce (see Note)

• 2 tsp. rice vinegar

• 2 tsp. ground Szechuan pepper (or substitute equal portions of anise and allspice)

• 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

• 2 to 3 tbsp. vegetable oil, preferably peanut

• 4 to 6 whole dried red chiles, such as piquin or cayenne

• 1 tbsp. chopped garlic

• 2 tsp. grated ginger

• 1 small onion, cubed

• 1/2 green pepper, cubed

• 1/2 c. roasted peanuts

• 2 tsp. sesame oil

• 1 green onion, chopped, plus some of the greens for garnish

• 2 c. cooked white rice, for serving


To prepare the marinating sauce: Combine wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar, along with 1 tablespoon of water, in a large bowl and stir to mix. Toss the chicken in the sauce to coat and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.

To prepare seasoning sauce: In another bowl, combine chicken broth, chile sauce, hoisin sauce, hot bean sauce, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, rice vinegar, Szechuan pepper, 2 teaspoons sugar and vinegar. Stir to mix, and set aside.

To prepare chicken: Heat a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot, and add the oil. Add the chiles and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until they start to blacken. Push them to the side of the wok, add the garlic and ginger, and stir-fry until fragrant.

Drain the chicken and add to the wok. Stir-fry the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chicken changes color. Remove, drain and keep warm. Add the onion and bell pepper, and stir-fry just until they soften.

Add the seasoning sauce to the wok and cook until the sauce thickens. Return the chicken and toss to coat. Heat until the sauce forms a glaze over the chicken. Add the peanuts and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the sesame oil.

To serve, mound the chicken on a serving platter and garnish with the chopped green onions. Serve with plain white rice.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 485 Fat 22 g Sodium 740 mg

Carbohydrates 45 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 58 mg

Protein 28 g Cholesterol 51 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1½ bread/starch, 1 other carb, 3 lean meat, 2½ fat.


Pork Vindaloo

Serves 6.

Note: The word vindaloo derives from the Portuguese words vinho for wine and alhos for garlic. This recipe must be prepared in advance. From “Some Like it Hot: Spicy Favorites From the World’s Hot Zones,” by Clifford Wright.

• 2 lb. boneless pork loin, fat removed, cut into 1-in.cubes

• Salt, to taste

• 20 dried red de arbol chiles, broken in half and seeded

• 10 black peppercorns

• 8 whole cloves

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 1 tsp. cumin seeds

• 1 tsp. coriander seeds

• 1/2 tsp. black mustard seeds

• 1 tsp. ground turmeric

• 1 (1-in.) cube fresh ginger, peeled

• 6 large garlic cloves

• 1 tsp. sugar

• 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar

• 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 2 medium-size onions, finely chopped

• 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

• 6 fresh green chiles, or 8 green jalapeños, or 12 green serrano chiles, sliced

• 3/4 c. coconut milk


Sprinkle the pork with salt, and set aside in a large bowl. Place the dried chiles, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and turmeric in a spice mill and grind to a powder (or use a clean coffee grinder; wipe out thoroughly when done and grind dry rice in it to remove spices). Transfer the spice mix to a blender with the ginger, garlic, sugar and vinegar to blend. Pour the mixture over the pork, toss, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, then cook the pork with its marinade for 5 minutes. Add the onions, tomatoes, fresh chiles and coconut milk. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until meat is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce is too thin, remove the meat with a skimmer and set aside while you reduce the sauce over high heat until dense, 10 to 15 minutes. Return the meat to the sauce and heat for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 410 Fat 23 g Sodium 94 mg

Carbohydrates 16 g Saturated fat 10 g Calcium 56 mg

Protein 36 g Cholesterol 97 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 vegetable, 4 lean meat, 2 fat.


Hot Crab Dip

Makes 3 cups.

Note: Use crackers, tart shells or corn chips to scoop up this dip, which is both temperature-hot and chile-hot. But celery or carrot sticks are an equally nice option — and then you can eat more of the dip. From “Some Like it Hot: Spicy Favorites From the World’s Hot Zones,” by Clifford Wright.

• 1/2 lb. cream cheese

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter

• 1 lb. crab meat, picked over

• 1 small onion, finely chopped

• 2 tsp. hot sauce

• 2 tsp. garlic powder

• 2 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 2 tsp. salt

• 2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper


In a double-boiler over medium-high heat, melt the cream cheese and butter, stirring. Once the mixture has become homogenous, reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the crab meat, onion, hot sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Stir until the dip is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add additional seasoning to taste and serve hot.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons:

Calories 85 Fat 7 g Sodium 340 mg

Carbohydrates 1 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 29 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 39 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ lean meat, 1 fat.