Then and Now: Adapting an Old Recipe

January 5, 2017


I found this recipe for Nina Simond’s Ch’eng Tu Tzu Chi in the February, 1979, issue of Gourmet.  Since I happened to have some of the ingredients on hand, I decided to make a slightly truncated, less fussy version.

Here’s Nina’s Recipe




And here’s what I did.

Spicy Chicken with Peanuts

Skin, bone and cube 3 or 4 chicken thighs.

Mix 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into 5 teaspoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon of water and a splash of toasted sesame oil, add the chicken cubes and allow to marinate for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, gather all your ingredients and set them near your stove.

Mince 3 scallions, a couple of cloves of garlic and a small knob of ginger and set aside.

Combine  4 tablespoons of chicken stock with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice wine,  a tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil. Stir in 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.

Measure out a tablespoon of chili paste (you could also use hot bean paste, if that’s all you happen to have).  

Slice a handful of fresh shiitake mushrooms and wash a generous handful of baby spinach leaves.  If you have some romaine lettuce, tear it into 2 inch pieces and add them to the pile.

Put a handful of peanuts in a dish and have them near your wok as well.

Get a wok very hot, add a couple tablespoons of peanut or grapeseed oil and allow that to get very hot. Toss in the shiitakes and stir fry just until they begin to wilt. Remove to a plate.

Add a bit more oil, get it hot, add the chicken and stir-fry until the meat changes color. Then put the chicken cubes on the plate with the shiitakes.

Add a bit more oil, allow it to get hot and add the scallion mixture along with the chili paste. Stir fry until the fragrance is floating over the pan, then add the spinach and lettuce.  Toss vigorously for a minute or so. Return the chicken and mushrooms, to the wok along with the broth mixture.  Bring to a boil and cook very briefly, until the sauce begins to thicken. 

Add the peanuts, toss around for a bit, and turn out onto a platter. 

Serve over rice, with Sriracha for those who want added heat.

This will serve two or three people.


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1 Comment

  • David Kmetz says:

    As it happens Ms. R. we are planning a similar dish for tonight. Using bella mushrooms, porcini mushroom powder ( a umami flavor enhancer sans glutamate, sort of..), scallions, ginger and cashews, chicken thighs. Huzzah! Great minds, etc. We have about 6″ of the light fluffy stuff for me to shovel later and work up an appetite. Our driveway is not quite as long as yours!