Got take out from Shangri La in Belmont last night and tried the kung pao chicken, after recently enjoying the kung pao shrimp and kung pao beef. Each is slightly different as far as what veggies are used, but all feature the peanuts and lots of dried red chili peppers, the long, dark red ones frequently used in Sichuan food. By lots, I mean around three dozen or so. Of course I've had other dishes in other restaurants (such as Zoe's, which I hope returns soon) with equally large amount of these dried chilis, but last night I started wondering what other Chinese food fans do with them.
Now I like hot food and I enjoy the heat and flavor the peppers impart. But I don't eat them. Maybe one. And that's enough. More than enough. A little too hot and chewy for me. After downing one I do what everyone else in my family does: push the peppers to the side and throw them out when we clean our plates.
But I feel a little guilty. There are so many peppers in the dish it seems like they are meant to be consumed. Are they an acquired taste? Or are they supposed to be tossed? And if that's the case, then why put so many of them in a dish? Wouldn't, say, a dozen do the trick?
After many years and many discarded peppers, I'd really like to know.