Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spicy Stir Fried Spring Onions and Peppers

Ever since we ate there in San Francisco last summer, I've been in love with Mission Chinese.  I'll spare you the glowing praise that pretty much every single review has bestowed upon it, but they really do make outstanding food.  Even better, there are so many vegetarian options, nearly every single one of which is delicious.  And the new branch in Manhattan, to which we've already been several times, is just as good.

I don't think it's reasonable to eat there once a week (although I think there are plenty of people in this city who eat out on such a regular basis that doing so wouldn't be considered out of the ordinary), so last weekend, when I was craving their fiery, fantastic, food, I decided to make a dent in our CSA share and make some Mission Chinese-inspired dishes at home.

I will admit to having made these excellent scallion pancakes - which are not on the menu at Mission Chinese - because I got a bunch of scallions in that week's CSA share and I can't think of a more efficient way to use a huge bunch of scallions than making scallion pancakes.  But I was also left with a whole lot of scallion stems (the white parts).

The rest of the dishes, though, were largely inspired by Mission Chinese.  In addition to soy-poached tofu with edamame and smashed cucumbers with sesame, chili, and garlic - both of which are actually on the menu there - I took down the green peppers, spring onions, and scallion stems from our share in a stir fry that was loaded with dried red chiles and black pepper.

So many chiles!

There's not much to this dish - a quick stir fry of onions and peppers followed by a quick cornstarch-based sauce laced with soy sauce and rice vinegar - but the big dose of heat makes it great.  Use fewer chiles if you don't like things as spicy, but that's kind of the charm of this dish, so if you can handle it, use more.  And don't forget the black pepper - it lends a pungent, almost stinging note that I just love.


Super Spicy Stir Fried Spring Onions and Peppers
serves 4
vegan and gluten-free

1 bunch spring onions, bulbs only
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only
1 tablespoon canola oil
15 arbol chiles (use fewer if you don't want this to be as spicy - I originally used 10 and while it was spicy, I wanted more heat)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 medium bell peppers (I used one green and one purple as that's what I got in my CSA share)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup water, plus more as needed


Peel the onions, cut then in half along the pole, and slice thinly.  Thinly slice the scallions.

Add the canola oil to a large skillet set over medium high heat.  Add the spring onions, scallions, arbol chiles, black pepper, and about 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until slightly soft, 6-8 minutes.  Lower the heat if the onions start to brown.

While the onions are cooking, seed the peppers, cut them in half, and cut them into 1/2" thick strips.  Add the peppers to the pan once the onions are soft and cook until the peppers are just starting to soften, 5-7 minutes.

In the meantime, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a medium bowl to form a slurry. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and remaining 1 cup water and whisk to combine.  Pour this mixture into the skillet and cook until thickened and mostly reduced, 2-3 minutes.  Add more water if necessary to keep the sauce loose enough (it should be thick but still a bit sauce-like).

Serve hot.

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