The fact that this dish contains both peanuts and chili would be enough to classify it as a ‘Kung Pao’ dish in most restaurants. In point of fact, though, it has neither the traditional ‘sweet and sour’ background flavors of a ‘Kung Pao’, nor the ‘scorched chili’ fragrance that comes from blackening dried chili in the cooking oil before adding other ingredients. The original recipe for today’s preparation comes from Chinese book on ‘healthy’ foods and it actually uses sliced fresh red chilies along with ‘garlic peanuts’, whereas my peanuts are just the plain roasted variety and I have substituted red bell pepper for fresh chili. I do add some garlic and chili paste at the end of the cooking to not only provide a little fire, but also to create a thin sauce, or glaze, for the main ingredients. If you can get your hands on the same little baby scallops I used here, then give this a try. It is really quick and easy…
- 1/2lb Baby Scallops;
- ½ cup Peanuts;
- 1 small Red Bell Pepper;
- 1 tsp. Rice Wine, or substitute dry sherry;
- ½ tsp. Garlic Paste;
- 1 Tbsp. Chili Paste;
- 1 pinch Salt;
Toss the scallops with the rice wine and leave to marinate for at least thirty minutes. Trim and cut the red pepper into squares with roughly the same dimensions as the diameter of your scallops and then sort your peanuts so that you are using whole, unbroken kernels and not halves. This isn’t critical, but it improves the final appearance of the dish.
Heat 2 or 3 cups of oil and deep-fry the scallops just until they start to turn golden and then remove them and drain of excess oil.
Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a saute pan over moderately high heat and when the oil is hot, add the garlic and chili pastes, followed by the red bell pepper. Saute until the pepper is softened slightly and the oil has taken on a nice red color from the chili.
Finally, add the scallops and peanuts along with the salt and saute for minute or so longer to heat everything through. Serve immediately.