Here in Bloomington, the Chinese restaurants are not so great. Not so good, even. So, if we want to have Chinese food, I have to make it at home. This really great recipe is easy and excellent. It "serves 4" but Chris and I almost always finish it ourselves. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated 9/02.
Hints: Have all your stuff ready to go because the dish comes together quickly. The rice should be timed so it finishes cooking right as you start the stir frying. We use cashews instead of peanuts because Jack is allergic to peanuts. Or, you can use diced water chestnuts if you don't want to use nuts at all. If you want to use chicken, thighs give the best flavor in stir fries.
1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled and deveined ( or 1 pound chicken thighs, cut into cubes)
1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger , peeled and minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
6 small whole dried red chiles (each about 1 3/4 to 2 inches long), 3 chiles roughly crumbled, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons black rice vinegar or plain rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 medium red bell pepper , cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 medium scallions , sliced thin
1. Toss shrimp with sherry and soy sauce in medium bowl; marinate until shrimp have absorbed flavors, about 10 minutes. Mix garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon oil in small bowl; set aside. Combine peanuts and chiles in small bowl; set aside. Mix chicken broth, vinegar, sesame oil, oyster-flavored sauce, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch in small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp and cook, stirring about once every 10 seconds, until barely opaque, 30 to 40 seconds; add peanuts and chiles, stir into shrimp, and continue cooking until shrimp are almost completely opaque and peanuts have darkened slightly, 30 to 40 seconds longer. (CHICKEN WILL TAKE LONGER TO COOK...USE YOUR JUDGEMENT.) Transfer shrimp, peanuts, and chiles to bowl; set aside. Return skillet to burner and reheat briefly, 15 to 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, swirl to coat pan, and add red bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 45 seconds. Clear center of pan, add garlic-ginger mixture, mash into pan with spoon or spatula, and cook until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds; stir into peppers until combined. Stir broth mixture to recombine, then add to skillet along with reserved shrimp, peanuts, and chiles; cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, until sauce has thickened to syrupy consistency, about 45 seconds. Stir in scallions; transfer to serving plate and serve immediately.