Lychee Flavor Sauce is a stir-fry sauce, should be made with whatever protein you are planning to cook and then served hot. Prawns, scallops, squid, shrimp, pork, and chicken are generally lightly browned before they are tossed with the sauce. Deep-fried batons of eggplant or bean curd will be delicious here, as well, and simply need to be heated through with the sauce for a minute or two. Read about the Chinese mother sauces here. —Madame Huang
about 2 cups
black mushrooms, fresh or dried and plumped up
stalks Chinese celery
peeled and finely minced fresh ginger
cloves garlic, thinly sliced
dried Thai chilies, broken in half, seeds shaken out and discarded, and caps removed
Stem the mushrooms, then tear or cut the caps into pieces about 1/2-inch wide. Remove the strings and leaves from the celery and cut the stalks into 1/2-inch lengths. Combine the ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Cut the green parts off the scallions, chop them into 1/4-inch pieces, and save as a garnish. Cut the white parts of the scallions into 1/4-inch rounds and add them to the ginger and garlic. Place the chilies in a sieve, rinse, and shake them dry.
Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or measuring cup, adding the sweet soy sauce (or soy sauce plus sugar) to taste.
Place a wok over medium heat and pour in the oil when the wok is hot. Swirl the oil around and add the Sichuan peppercorns. When the peppercorns have toasted to a very dark brown, use a slotted spoon to remove and discard them. Turn up the heat under the wok to high. Add the chilies to the oil, fry them until they start to brown, and add the ginger, garlic, and whites of the green onions. Stir-fry these for a few minutes to release their fragrance.
Add the mushrooms and stir-fry them until they start to brown, and then add the celery and toss it with the mushrooms. Fry only until the raw edge of the celery is gone. Scoot the vegetables up the side of the wok. Add whatever protein you are using and fry them quickly in the oil at the bottom of the wok until they barely brown, adding more oil as needed to keep them from sticking to the wok. Toss them with the vegetables, and then pour the sauce around the edge so that it heats up quickly. Toss everything together quickly until the sauce thickens and forms a sheen over all of the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Toss in the onion greens and peanuts and then serve immediately.
Carolyn Phillips is a food writer, scholar, and artist. She is the author of the fully illustrated All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China (McSweeney’s + Ten Speed Press, August 2016) and The Dim Sum Field Guide: A Taxonomy of Dumplings, Buns, Meats, Sweets, and Other Specialties of the Chinese Teahouse (Ten Speed Press, August 2016). Her work has appeared in such places as Best Food Writing 2015, Lucky Peach, Gastronomica, Buzzfeed, Alimentum, Huffington Post, Food52, Zester Daily, and at the 2013 MAD Symposium in Copenhagen. She and her husband were cultural consultants on the third Ghostbusters movie, her weekly blog is Madame Huang's Kitchen (MadameHuang.com), she Tweets as @madamehuang, and Instagrams as @therealmadamehuang.
Carolyn’s art has appeared everywhere from museums and galleries to various magazines and journals to Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas series. She worked for over a decade as a professional Mandarin interpreter in the federal and California state courts, lived in Taiwan for eight years, translated countless books and articles, and married into a Chinese family more than 30 years ago.