Since Son3 went off to school we are going out more than we have since we were dating. For anyone counting, that is about 40 years ago. For the first time in years we had even seen most of the movies which were nominated for Oscar's and actually had favorites. ( Personally we were glad Argo won for best film, but were really happy with all the awards for The Life of Pi. It was a feast for the eyes) In between movies and concerts we go out to eat. We eat out too often, but it is what it is.
A few weeks ago we saw a 4:30 showing of Argo. When it ended we decided to eat at the Summit since we were already there. Neither of us had a taste preference that night and P.F. Chang had a small crowd ( It pays to go out to eat at 7:30 on a Tuesday night) so in we went. One of the first things I noticed was a menu change. I am not a big fan of Changs but am always willing to try a new menu items. To be honest, I check to see what is listed as hot and usually try it. The Caramel Chicken had my preferred heat level so that sealed the decision. This is my attempt to recreate the flavor as I remember it.
2 tablespoons neutral oil ( like grapeseed)
1 bell pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
1 large onion cut into strips
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
3 boneless, skinned chicken breasts, cut in bite size pieces
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon fish sauce ( I started with 1/2 but had to add more)
red pepper flakes to taste
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
Saute' the onion, pepper and mushrooms in a skillet until the veggies are soft but not brown. Remove from pan and put in the chicken. Cook until almost done then add the minced garlic and the ginger paste and finish cooking making sure the garlic does NOT brown. Working quickly add the rest of the ingredients and stir to coat the chicken well. Add the wilted vegetables to the pan just long enough to heat them. Serve piping hot over brown rice ( or white rice, though we never eat it).
This was ok but not as good as I remembered. I thought it was a little too sweet, plus the sauce was much thinner than the one I was served. There must have been a little cornstarch added as a thickening agent. I also don't think the one at P.F.Change had peppers or mushrooms but I am adding vegetables to everything we eat. It is good enough to try again but I think it probably needs a little tweaking. I added maybe 1/8 teaspoon of pepper flakes and it was not hot enough for me . Next time I will increase it to at least 1/4 teaspoon and might also add a jalapeno to the sauteed vegetables. I also added no salt since both soy sauce and fish sauce are salty, but we eat very little salt so it was fine for us. Might not be enough for others so I would adjust the seasoning after a taste test. I also think adding an additional teaspoon of vinegar might balance the sweetness with a bit of tart. I have some plum wine vinegar that I will use next time. You be guided by your own taste and imagination!
As an aside, I overbought red grapes and had way more than we could eat. I have been trying to have minimal food waste and recently purchased a food dehydrator to have some way of limiting what I toss in the garbage. Last night I washed them and split the skin on one side of each grape. I spread them on the dehydrator tray and plugged it in. Tonight I have some of the most delicious raisins I have ever eaten, which is really saying something since raisins are not my favorite way to eat fruit. I do not buy anything to intentionally dry, but am finding plenty of uses to salvage my over buying habit. For some reason my brain does not let me buy just 2 oranges when I can buy a 5 pound bag, so I guess my new toy is going to get quite a work out.