I jokingly call this “Kung-fu” because “it comes in peace, then kicks you in the throat.” 😆 No, seriously, it isn’t that hot (though you can always make it throat-kicking hotter if you want). Made with 2 Tbls of chili oil it is — to my taste buds — pleasantly spicy without being too hot. The amount of chili oil to some extent depends on how hot you want it and how many ingredients you’re putting in the wok. If you want it less spicy, substitute an unflavored cooking oil for 1 Tbls of the oil. If you want it spicier, I wouldn’t recommend adding much more oil; you run the risk of the dish being too greasy. Try adding a small amount of a diced hot pepper along with the bell pepper and other vegetables.
The flavor of substitute-chicken soy strips varies depending on brand. (I use Gardein brand.) I won’t guarantee the flavorings will be exactly right for all brands. You may need to tweak them a bit depending on the brand. Likewise, I’ve noticed some variation in 5-spice powder blends. Right now I’m using Penzeys blend and it seems just right to me. You can find 5-spice powder (sometimes sold as “Chinese Five Spice Powder”) in specialty stores, Asian markets, and online. (I’m fortunate to have a local Pendary’s but you can order their five spice powder, as well as a number of other spices I use in various recipes, from their online shop.
This is the absolute basic recipe. If you have a can of bamboo shoots or water chestnuts (or both) on hand you can add them, too. Feel free to experiment with additional vegetables. If you really overload the wok you may need a little more oil to stir-fry things properly, but not much more.
I use red bell pepper for this, but green is fine if you prefer the sharper flavor of green bell peppers. I developed the recipe based on the milder flavor of the red bell peppers because the red looks so good in the dish with the bright green of the snowpeas. 🙂
I also prefer using fresh mushrooms, but have used canned many times because that’s what I’ve got on hand. If using canned mushrooms, drain and rinse before adding to the wok. (You’ll get a better sauce if using fresh.)
1 7 oz pkg chicken-type soy strips (I use Gardein chick’n strips)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4-8 oz mushrooms (4 oz canned or 8 oz fresh button mushrooms)
A generous handful of snowpeas
2 Tbls chili oil (I use Boyajian, either regular or roasted)
4 Tbls soy sauce
2 Tbls dry red or white wine (whatever’s on hand)
1 tsp five spice powder
(Other vegetables optional)
If serving over rice, prepare rice in your usual way. If serving over noodles, cook according to package directions.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Lightly brown the soy strips in the oil, then add the vegetables and stir-fry in a wok over medium-high heat — stirring almost constantly — until veggies are just tender. Then turn the heat down and add the other ingredients. Toss and stir well. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. As the flavors from the spices, oil and vegetable juices meld, it makes a delicious sauce to spoon over rice or noodles. Makes about 4 servings.
Hint: if you’re able to grow snowpeas in the spring or fall — or have access to fresh-picked snowpeas — it makes a huge difference in the flavor and texture of the dish. Supermarket snowpeas are typically flaccid and you don’t get that crisp-tender texture and more lively green that you get when the pods go from the garden to the wok.