Bon Appetit website has several recipes from Danny Bowien, chef of Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco and New York City. Kung Pao Pastrami is one of my favorite dishes at Mission Chinese Food, so I was excited to see the recipe. Chef Bowien uses some decidedly non-Chinese ingredients, like potatoes and pastrami, to make an original, fiery, savory take on Kung Pao. Gratifyingly, the recipe allowed me to make a delicious version of the dish that is very close to the one served at MCF, albeit without the house-made pastrami at MCF.
There are a few specialty ingredients to track down. I found broad bean paste and Szechuan peppercorns at an Asian supermarket, and Safeway had red jalepeno peppers and serrano chiles. There is a sub-recipe for salted chili paste, which is made from ten raw red jalepenos, ten dried chiles de arbol, fish sauce, salt, wine, ten raw garlic cloves, and ginger. It is really pungent. One complaint is that the recipe makes about a cup of salted chili paste, but the Kung Pao Pastrami recipe only needs one tablespoon.
After the salted chili paste is made, the rest is pretty easy. The recipe calls for first frying some diced potatoes in half cup of peanut oil, but I decreased the amount of oil to about 1-2 tablespoons. Then, stir fry the pastrami, celery, salted chili paste, chiles, peanuts, soy sauce, and broad bean paste and add some chives for garnish.
There is a lot of explosive heat from the chiles de arbol, salted chile paste, serrano chiles, and szechuan peppercorns, and there is a lot of textural contrast with the pastrami, starchy potatoes, and crunchy celery and peanuts. I really liked this dish at MCF and can now make it at home!
Link to recipe here.
Subscribe to Bon Appetit here.
Link to my review of Mission Chinese Food here.
Update: Because the recipe makes so much salted chili paste, I tried to think of ways to use it by modifying the Kung Pao Pastrami recipe. Then it hit me – I’ll make Kung Pao…Chicken! Danny Bowien’s recipe makes a great Kung Pao Chicken, with less fat than pastrami.
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine (or sake)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Mix first three ingredients into a slurry and marinate chicken thigh pieces for 20 minutes.
Follow the directions in the Kung Pao Pastrami recipe. After cooking the potatoes and transferring to a plate, add dried chiles to hot oil and then stir fry chicken until cooked through, then continue following the Kung Pao Pastrami recipe.