Quick Bites from Spices of Life: Chili Peppers

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Over the next several weeks we are featuring videos from Nina Simonds of Spices of Life. This week we’ve got chili peppers! As seen in our last Bittersweet Baking finalist hot peppers and chocolate are a classic bittersweet pair.

Nina gives tips for picking peppers below, plus a recipe for Chili Chicken with Cashews…

Chile Chicken with Cashews

1 1/2 pounds boned chicken breast, skin removed

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch

4 1/2 tablespoons canola or corn oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced scallions, white part only
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon hot chile paste or dried chile flakes (or to taste)

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced canned water chestnuts,
blanched for 10 seconds, then refreshed in cold water and drained

Sauce (mixed together)
3/4 cup classic chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/4 cups dry-roasted cashews

First trim the chicken of any fat or gristle. Cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a bowl. Add the premixed Marinade ingredients, and toss the chicken cubes to coat them. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes.

Second Heat a large wok or large skillet, add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, heat until very hot, and add the chicken. Cook over high heat until the chicken cubes become opaque and are cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Wipe out the pan.

Third Reheat the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, heat, and add the Seasonings. Stir-fry briefly, about 15 seconds, then add the water chestnuts, and stir-fry over high heat for about 1 1/2 minutes to heat them through. Add the premixed Sauce, and cook, stirring continuously to prevent lumps, until thickened. Return the cooked chicken and add the cashews. Toss lightly to coat and heat through. Scoop everything onto a platter. Serve with a vegetable and steamed rice.

(c) Copyright Nina Simonds Spices of Life 2008

Nina Simonds is one of the country’s leading authorities on Asian cooking. She is the author of ten books on Chinese cuisine and culture, including the best-selling Asian Noodles and A Spoonful of Ginger, and Spices of Life, which won both the IACP and the James Beard Foundation Book Award for health.

Simonds is a member of the Nutrition Roundtable at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is a regular contributor to Oprah Magazine and The New York Times and has written for Gourmet Magazine since 1979 and was a correspondent/contributing editor for 7 years. Her food/health/lifestyle website www.spicesoflife.com has been featured in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and on the home page of iTunes.

Thanks Nina!