Serves 4

Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts lend Gong Bao chicken its traditional taste. Here, the dish is made with portobello mushrooms. You can buy Sichuan peppercorns and Chinkiang vinegar at good Asian grocers.

SAUCE

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2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon potato flour or cornstarch
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
4 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar or black vinegar
1 tablespoon water

1. In a bowl, combine the sugar, salt, potato flour or cornstarch, dark and light soy sauces, vinegar, and water.

2. Stir well; set aside.

MUSHROOMS

6 large portobello mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons potato flour or cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup canola oil
8 small dried red chili peppers, halved and seeded
2 teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, thinly sliced
10 scallions, white parts only cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup roasted peanuts

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the mushrooms for 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and shake dry. Transfer to a bowl and add the potato flour or cornstarch and salt; mix well.

2. In a large wok, heat the oil until you see small the surface tremble slightly. Add the mushrooms and fry for 30 to 60 seconds or until glossy. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan.

3. Return the wok to the heat. Add the chilies, and Sichuan peppercorns. Let them sizzle briefly for 2 minutes or until the chilies are darkening but not burned.

4. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan. Stir the sauce you made earlier and add it to the wok, stirring quickly as the mixture comes to a boil and the sauce thickens. Stir in the peanuts. Adapted from “Every Grain of Rice”