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
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