As you read this post I will be enroute to Vietnam via an overnight sleeper bus. And by sleeper bus this is not just a bus that drives through the night, rather this is a bus with beds.
Bunk beds I tell you.
I booked us the lower bunks though, considering I fear falling off a top bunk in a stationary room, with a swerving bus, who knows how well I will keep my balance in my sleep.
I have my fingers crossed for a safe ride and an even smoother border crossing. From the border it’s 2-3 km to the nearest town, from where we will need to catch a bus to the mountain side town of Sapa – 40 km away.
A slight problem. We have no local currency. D tried to exchange some dollars for Vietnamese Dong at the bank today, but nobody seems to carry it.
Here’s to hoping for an ATM by the border!
Let’s talk exchange rates. We will go from diving the price by 6 for Chines yuan, to dividing by 20,000 for Vietnamese Dong. How absurd is that? Our hotel stays could be in the millions! Talk about confusing.
Also with Vietnam being notorious for overcharging tourists (with prices inflated as high as ten times sometimes), I am a little worried. to say the least.
We will be spending 1 month in the country and I’m determined to enroll in at least a couple cooking classes so stay tuned.
Until then I’ve got two more Chinese recipes to share from the Rice and Friends cooking school.
The Chinese know this as Gong Bao but we Americans are more familiar with this is Kung Pao chicken. A staple recipe for the picky and less adventurous eaters here in China.
With chicken, peanuts, garlic, ginger, green onions and the sauce this is a pretty basic recipe. No exotic chicken parts or vegetables.
A classic recipe I’d say. Don’t be fooled though. The sauce is where the complexity comes it. With a long list of ingredients, each added in small quantities, if you’re a little bit off the dish could taste completely different.
It’s all about balance. With the right combination, each ingredient complements the other perfectly and you’ve got to give it a taste test to make sure everything is just right.
This is a dish we’ve ordered many times in China and I’m happy to finally be able to share the recipe with you.
Perfect served over steamed rice.
- 150 grams chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
- 50 grams toasted peanuts
- For the marinade:
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstach
- For the sauce:
- 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
- dash of salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water or chicken broth
- 2-3 small dried red chilis, seeds removed and cut into 1/2 inch sections
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
- 3 tablespoons oil
- In a bowl combine chicken with marinade (except for cornstarch). Mix until smooth and let sit for 10 minutes then add cornstarch and mix.
- Combine sauce ingredients in a separate bowl and mix until smooth,
- Heat wok over medium-high heat. Add oil and when oil is hot add the chicken. Stir fry until it turns white and is cooked half way. Remove from wok.
- Reduce heat to low and add chili and sichuan peppercorns. Stir fry until aroma is released and the chili turns bright red (less than 1 minute). Push them to the side of the wok and add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry until aroma is released (less than one minute)
- Add chicken back to the wok and increase heat to medium. Add green onions and stir. Add sauce, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the peanuts. Stir until mixed through.
- Remove from heat and serve with rice.
Recipe Adapted from Rice and Friends Cooking School