Food & dining
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    Recipe for Vegetarian Gong Bao chicken

    Serves 4

    Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts lend Gong Bao chicken its traditional taste. Here, the dish is made with portobello mushrooms. You can buy Sichuan peppercorns and Chinkiang vinegar at good Asian grocers.

    SAUCE

    2tablespoons sugar
    ¼teaspoon salt
    ½teaspoon potato flour or cornstarch
    1teaspoon dark soy sauce
    4teaspoons light soy sauce
    2tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar or black vinegar
    1tablespoon water

    1. In a bowl, combine the sugar, salt, potato flour or cornstarch, dark and light soy sauces, vinegar, and water.

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    2. Stir well; set aside.

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    MUSHROOMS

    6large portobello mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    3tablespoons potato flour or cornstarch
    1/2teaspoon salt
    ¾cup canola oil
    8small dried red chili peppers, halved and seeded
    2teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns
    6cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    1piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, thinly sliced
    10scallions, white parts only cut into ½-inch pieces
    ½cup roasted peanuts

    1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the mushrooms for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and shake dry. Transfer to a bowl and add the potato flour or cornstarch and salt; mix well.

    2. In a large wok, heat the oil until you see small the surface tremble slightly. Add the mushrooms and fry for 30 to 60 seconds or until glossy. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan.

    3. Return the wok to the heat. Add the chilies, and Sichuan peppercorns. Let them sizzle briefly for 2 minutes or until the chilies are darkening but not burned.

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    4. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan. Stir the sauce you made earlier and add it to the wok, stirring quickly as the mixture comes to a boil and the sauce thickens. Stir in the peanuts. Adapted from “Every Grain of Rice”