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."

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Sichuan Asparagus



SICHUAN ASPARAGUS
PF Chang's Restaurant Copycat Recipe

Serves 2

1 tablespoon diced green chilis
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
10 asparagus spears
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/3 cup vegetarian oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

The day prior to making this dish, drain and rinse 1 tablespoon diced green chilies. Add to a bowl the drained chilies, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and rice vinegar. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to make the dish, add the content of the bowl to a food processor and pulse once or twice. Set aside.

Slice the onion and trim and cut the asparagus spears into thirds. Grate the ginger and chop the garlic.

Heat a dry wok or heavy frying pan on medium high heat. It will be hot enough when water evaporates almost immediately after hitting the pan. Pour in the oil making sure to rotate the wok or pan to get all sides coated evenly as you pour.

Toss in the ginger and garlic and stir fry for one minute. Add the asparagus, onion and pureed green chili paste and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce and cornstarch, continuing to fry for about another minute so the cornstarch thickens the sauce. Remove from heat and place into a serving dish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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