P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc.'s 40-plus restaurant chain, operating in 19 states, owes much of its success to founder Paul Fleming's unique idea of pairing oriental cuisine with American-style service. At the outset, when he opened the first of the restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona, Fleming broke with the traditional Chinese restaurant format. With his collaborator, chef Philip Chiang, he devised a comparatively limited menu that featured far fewer dishes than the menus of typical, full-service, Chinese restaurants. Incorporating an American steak house dining style and a formidable selection of wines and cheeses, P.F. Chang's offers such additional oriental restaurant anomalies as espresso and cappuccino. Although P.F. Chang's China Bistros are stylish in decor, displaying motifs from the Ming and T'ang Dynasties and hand-painted murals, the dishes are moderately priced, partly because one of Fleming's aims was to provide high quality but affordable Chinese food for "the masses."




Spicy Chicken Salad

Pei Wei Copycat Recipe

Serves 4

Chinese Chicken Stock:
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Pei Wei Sauce:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 pounds mixed greens
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound snap peas, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 carrots, julienne
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
Store-bought Asian vinaigrette, to taste
1 cup rice noodles, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Fried Chicken:
2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon white pepper and 1 teaspoon salt
1 quart soybean oil
2 tablespoons Chinese Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Pei Wei Sauce
1 tablespoon chili paste
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In a saucepan, simmer Chinese Chicken Stock ingredients over medium-high heat a few minutes until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. In another saucepan, repeat step with Pei Wei Sauce

In a bowl, add salad ingredients (except rice noodles and cilantro) and toss to coat evenly with dressing.

Dust chicken cubes with seasoned flour and shake off excess. Heat soybean oil in a saucepan to 350 degrees, and fry chicken 2 1/2 minutes. When cooked through, arrange chicken on an oven-safe plate lined with paper towels and place in a warm oven.

In a wok or saute pan placed over high heat, whisk together Chinese Chicken Stock, Pei Wei Sauce and chili paste. To thicken sauce, mix in cornstarch. Add chicken and toss until evenly coated with sauce. Spoon hot chicken over salad, garnish with rice noodles and cilantro, and serve immediately.

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