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Chengdu-Style Spicy Crab

I have been a fan of authentic Szechuan cuisine since I first tried it at Z & Y Restaurant in San Francisco a few years ago. I love the bold, pungent, and spicy flavors. This recipe is my riff on the flavors from that region.
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Chinese Style Black Sea Bass ( 中国风格的黑鲈鱼)

Chinese style black sea bass with bok choy and shitaki mushrooms

Ingredients:

2 whole black sea bass (about 1 pound each), cleaned

Marinade:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped scallions

Preparation:

On each side of the fish, make three diagonal cuts 2 1/2 inches long and about a 1/2 inch deep. Stir the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and spoon it over the fish, making sure it seeps into the cuts. Let the fish stand in the marinade uncovered at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make the sauce:

Melt the butter in a small skillet, and saute the sesame seeds until golden, 1 minute. Stir in the ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, lemon juice, cornstarch, and water; stir until smooth. Stir this into the butter mixture, and heat to a simmer stirring frequently. Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Set aside and keep warm. Arrange the fish in a baking pan, and bake until it flakes easily, about 20-25 minutes. Stir any accumulated pan juices and the chopped scallions into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the fish or serve alongside.

Oriental-Style Sesame Chicken

1-oriental-style-sesame-chickenIngredients:

3-4 boneless chicken breasts

For the sauce:

3 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp chili paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs soy sauce
Peanut oil, for deep-frying
Salt
1-2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
2 Tbs chopped scallions, for garnish

For the marinade/batter:

4 Tbs cornstarch
6 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbs all-purpose flour
4 Tbs water
1 tsp baking powder

Directions

Wash the chicken under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes/strips and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the marinade ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the sauce.

In a saucepan, add the sesame oil and set over low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and fry gently until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to dissolve the cornstarch. Gently pour into the saucepan with the fried ginger and garlic. Stir as you pour because the cornstarch will thicken up pretty quickly. Keep warm over low heat.

In a heavy-bottomed pot,  heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the pot, to 375 degrees F.
Fry the chicken, in small batches, until golden and crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the chicken using a wire mesh strainer and drain on paper towels. Season with a little salt, to taste. To serve, arrange the fried chicken in a bowl and drizzle with the sauce tossing well to coat. Sprinkle with a generous amount of toasted sesame seeds and garnish with scallions.

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