27 September 2012

Calgary-Style Ginger Fried Chicken with Snow Peas and Peppers

Calgary-Style Ginger Fried Chicken with Snow Peas and Peppers

Back in the day my home for 6 years was Calgary in the province of Alberta living in the foothills of the Rockies with one foot firmly on the prairies of Alberta. Almost every Sunday you would find us down in Chinatown having Dim Sum but we often made the trek to a restaurant called the Yum Yum Tree in the south end on 14th Avenue. I have no idea if the restaurant is there still, but, their ginger fried beef is a highlight in my food memories. They did not invent the dish but it was a perfect mix of sweet, savoury, and the right amount of crunchiness and heat.   

It is said that in 1975 the cook and husband of the owner of Chinatown’s Silver Inn restaurant in Calgary came up with the crunchy ginger beef with sweet sauce that we know today. Calgary-style ginger beef is a westernized version of a traditional Northern Chinese-style dish which consists of beef slices stir-fried with ginger and green onions.  Since North Americans enjoy deep fried foods and sweet and sour tasting sauces, chef Leung's version consists of crispy deep fried strips of beef coated with a dark sweet and spicy sauce.

It can still, even after 37 years, be difficult to find the Alberta style of ginger beef outside of that province, although it can be found on the menus of restaurants in other large Canadian cities. Here in K-town there is a restaurant called Wok Inn with its sister restaurants for take-out Wok Out.  Aren't these great names for a Chinese restaurant? You "walk in" you "walk out."  Someone was thinking! They have delicious Canadian-ized Chinese to boot! On the menu they have a more sweet and sour version of the famous Calgary Ginger Fried Beef. You can find a version of the original Calgary recipe here. But on the menu they also have a Ginger Fried Chicken recipe that is one of my favourites. Sometimes I stop by on my way home from work to take home my favourite dish. So why not attempt to make it at home?
When our group was doing the 50 Women Game Changers in Food I came across a recipe from Japan's  Harumi Kurihara for a nice crispy chicken. I added the traditional ginger fried beef sauce, some snow peas, red peppers and onion and a star is born in my version of this infamous dish. For a nice  light coating my version coats the chicken slices in cornstarch in the Japanese style which creates a crispy crunchy texture perfect for this dish. Serve with some steamed rice to soak up all the juices and you are whisked away to the foothills town of Calgary. It may not be the authentic recipe but it satisfies my cravings.

**Calgary-Style Ginger Fried Chicken with Snow Peas and Peppers**
1 lb boneless chicken breasts
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sake
Cornstarch or potato starch for coating the chicken

1 carrot
3 or more hot chili peppers 
1 package snow peas
1 small onion
1 medium sized red pepper
1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil

The Original Sauce

1 tablespoon hot chili oil (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
7 tablespoons of honey
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons of water
4 - 5 tablespoons oil for frying
Cut chicken into long strips, cutting along the grain. (The meat is easier to cut if it is partially frozen). As you get more experienced, you can decide if you like really crispy, in which case you make thinner strips. If you like a chewier dish you make the strips thicker. In a small bowl add chicken strips, soy sauce and sake and marinate for 5 minutes. Set aside.
Begin preparing vegetables. Cut carrots, onions and peppers into thin strips. 
Mix the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and coat thoroughly with cornstarch. For the best result, the chicken should be at room temperature before frying. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a wok, When ready add chicken strips in small batches for the best result. Cook until golden brown. Remove from wok and set aside.
When meat is cooked, wipe the wok clean. Heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. When oil is ready, add the vegetables and begin stir-frying. Pour in the sauce and let come to a boil. Add the deep-fried chicken. Toss quickly, and remove.
Sprinkle with sesame oil and serve hot. To make your Ginger Fried Chicken a little spicier, add more chili peppers if desired.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. A scrumptious looking stir-fry! I wish I could eat that for supper...



  2. what nice and delicious look this Vall!

  3. It's not my mother's southern fried chicken!! Looks and sounds delicious.


  4. Looks delicious Val! To live in Alberta, Calgary must have been a beautiful experience. I've only been there once for a very brief 4 days at a conference (and in a building most of the time). It is on our bucket list to return and not attend anything work-related! So gorgeous!

  5. When I think of Alberta I kind of picture Little House on the Prairie!

  6. If I ever get to go to Calgary, I'm going to make sure I eat this. It looks so yummy. I'm going to try to recreate it here at home.

  7. This sounds like a easy to prepare dish that has a lot of flavor. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  8. I have been dying to eat something like this and unfortunately my favorite Chinese restaurant is under renovation. This dish is making me want to go out in the rain and go to my Chinatown in search of soemthing like this. Too lazy to make...

  9. This dish sounds sooo good. I will be trying it soon. Thanks Val.

  10. only 23 days!

  11. This is a beautiful looking dish. I love it, tasty and healthy. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  12. I had no idea about the history of this dish - but my dear life long friend lived in Calgary and when visiting there - she took me there to have it as it was "all the rave" there at the time - and I was completely addicted. Food then was nothing like now. This was a novel and incredibly exciting dish that you craved once tasting. Her next trip to Edmonton to visit me included a double take out of this very dish. I have been crazy over it ever since. Thanks for the history lesson. I have made it, too - with a flat iron cut of beef which worked incredibly well. Bravo!

  13. What a gorgeous adaption, Val. This looks irresistibly delicious. I've booked marked this and will give it a try. Have a wonderful weekend, Val Blessings...Mary

  14. YUM - this looks brilliant! Now that paolo has finished work he will be doing the cooking. I've printed this off for him. ;-)

  15. I do not think that restaurant is still around but the ginger beef is everywhere! I love it, too. Here is Swift Current we have it with pork most of the time. It is still one of my favourites even after all these years of enjoying it. Thx for the recipe.

  16. i like the fact that the chicken is cut into long, thin strips--that makes it even easier to eat!

  17. Loved reading the history of this dish, Val. Makes it all the more interesting. I'd forgotten about the cornstarch trick...I've done it in the past with great results.
    The sauce is perfection.

  18. With Asian and Italtian you just can't go wrong in my book, this one look amazing! And how fun that it conjures up such fun memories for you!

  19. What an interesting story about this dish and I love saving regional favorites and I am certainly saving this one. Love the names of the sister restaurants ;)

  20. I have this one bookmarked. It looks delicious, has some of my favorite flavors, and it's something that will please SPP and me.

    I like the fact that it's associated with Calgary. That's the only place in Canada I have ever been.

  21. I like this recipe.
    I' m happy to find your blog.
    I like your recipe, I like Calgary too.
    I have been to calgary this summer in vacations great city.
    Bye from Italy


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