Kung Pao Chicken

If you're fond of Chinese food and fiery flavors, you're almost certain to enjoy this Szechwan speciality. Chinese chefs often leave the charred whole chiles in the dish, but you can remove them if you prefer.

Preparation time: About 10 minutes
Marinating time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: About 10 minutes

In a bowl, stir together sherry, cornstarch, salt, and white pepper. Add chicken and stir to coat, then stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil and let marinate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Cooking Sauce and set aside.

Place a wok over medium heat; when wok is hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When oil is hot, add chiles and peanuts and stir until chiles ust begin to char. (If chiles become completely black, discard them. Remove peanuts from wok and set aside; repeat with new oil and chiles.) Remove peanuts and chiles from wok; set aside.

Pour 1 tablespoon more oil into wok and increase heat to high. When oil begins to heat, add garlic and ginger and stir once, then add half the chicken mixture. Stir-fry until meat is no longer pink in the center; cut to test (about 3 minutes). Remove from wok and set aside. Repeat to cook remaining chicken, adding 1 tablespoon oil.

Return all chicken to wok; add peanuts, chiles, and onions. Stir Cooking Sauce and pour into wok; stir until sauce boils and thickens.

Makes 4 servings.

Cooking Sauce:

Stir together 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup each white wine vineger and dry sherry, 1/2 cup regular-strength chicken broth or water, and 2 tablespoonseach sugar and cornstarch.