Serves 2 as a main course
2 cups canola oil , 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns , 2 tablespoons cumin seeds , 2 black cardamom pods, lightly crushed , 5 teaspoons fennel seeds , 5 teaspoons allspice berries , 5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed , 1 tablespoon chinese cinnamon , 7 star anise pods , ½ cup sliced ginger , 2 tablespoons fresh orange peel , 2 tablespoons crushed garlic cloves |2 tablespoons sesame seeds , 1 tablespoon Tianjin chile flakes*, 1½ teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns , 2 teaspoons sugar |*Make Tianjin chile flakes by placing a handful of whole chiles in a food processor or blender and processing until flakes form, taking care to not overprocess into a powder. |Canola oil, if necessary , 8 ounces protein of choice (suggestions: leftover rotisserie chicken, thinly sliced flank steak, fresh local shrimp, or tofu**) , 4 tablespoons spice oil , 1 bunch scallions, white parts sliced into 1½-inch batons and greens sliced into thin rounds for garnish, 1 tablespoon minced garlic , 1 tablespoon minced ginger , 2 tablespoons chile paste, such as sambal oelek , 1 tablespoon doubanjiang , Chopped vegetables such as napa cabbage, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms , 8 slices lotus root, optional***, Pinch of spice blend , 3 tablespoons shaoxing wine , Garnish: Sesame oil and cilantro leaves |**If you’re using tofu, opt for the firm variety as it holds up better during cooking. Gently toss it in the stir fry just before serving. , ***This tuber-like ingredient is the root of a water lily plant. They can be found pre-sliced at most Asian grocery stores, and bring a fresh crunch to the dish.
For the spice oil:|For the spice blend:||For the stir fry:|
- Make the spice oil: In a medium pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, then set aside to cool to room temperature. Strain oil and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Oil will keep for up to 3 months in the fridge.
- Make the spice blend: In a mixing bowl, combine sesame seeds, chile flakes, Sichuan peppercorn, and sugar. Set aside.
- Cook the stir fry: Heat a wok or large cast-iron skillet over high heat. If using an uncooked protein, add a splash of canola oil to the wok and stir fry protein until barely cooked through; set aside. Add spice oil to wok, then scallion batons. Stir fry briefly, then add garlic, ginger, chile paste, and doubanjiang. Add vegetables and lotus root, if using, and stir fry until vegetables are lightly cooked, about 1 minute. Add cooked protein to pan along with spice blend.
- Add shaoxing wine, stirring briefly to deglaze pan, then stir in a light drizzle of sesame oil. Serve in a large bowl, garnished with scallion rounds and cilantro.
Schuttenberg uses this spice oil in other stir frys, to drizzle as a finishing oil on any number of brothy noodle dishes, or even on a quick stir-fried vegetable, like bok choy. “Playing around and figuring out what does and doesn’t work is what makes cooking so much fun, and this dish is the epitome of that.”
From Loud Hot Vibes.
- Recipe from David Schuttenberg, Kwei Fei, Charleston