Mission Chinese Food Kung Pao Pastrami


Chef Danny Bowien – winner of the Rising Star award by the James Beard Foundation in May – makes his own pastrami, but you can buy fatty deli pastrami as a substitute. He also makes his own chili combination but suggests Chinese chili oil as a good substitute.

Ready in: 1 hour
Servings: 4


Stir Fry

  • 375 grams (3/4 pounds) deli pastrami, uncut
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1 cup red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fried peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese chili oil


  • Fried garlic (see below)
  • Sichuan pepper powder (available in Asian stores)
  • Toasted sesame seed
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

Fried Garlic

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Salt


Cut the pastrami into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes.

Cut the potatoes into slices that are 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, then cut again into 1/4 inch (5 mm) wide sticks.

Cut the celery diagonally into 1/4 inch thick crescent-shaped slices.

Seed and slice the bell pepper into chunks, about 1/2 inch (1 cm) by 1 inch (2.5 cm). The goal is to create shapes that will cook in about the same time as the celery.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the potatoes for 30 seconds or until just starting to soften. Drain.

Heat a wok or heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Coat wok with a thin layer of oil – it should be shimmering, almost smoking.

Add the pastrami to the wok, and allow some of the fat to render and the meat to caramelize a bit on one side before stirring, about 2 minutes. Cook until the meat is heated through and browned on a couple of sides. Transfer the meat to a large mixing bowl and bring the pan back to temperature.

Add the celery and peppers stir constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, and continue to stir-fry for another 5 minutes or until all the vegetables are just cooked.

Add the peanuts, soy sauce and chili oil to the wok. Return the meat. Stir-fry quickly, then transfer everything to a serving platter and garnish with the fried garlic, toasted sesame seeds, Szechuan pepper powder and chives.

For Fried Garlic: Heat vegetable oil to 325 F (160 C) to 350 F (180 C). Add garlic and fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Season with salt.


A fruity wine, whether white or red, will work better for the pastrami than that old Sino-restaurant staple, Chinese beer. Fruit offsets hot spice while thin beer merely amplifies it. It also provides a counterpoint to the meat’s gamy quality. A crisp, chilled red Beaujolais should work well (20 minutes in the fridge is optimal), the acidity helping cut through the fat. But there are other options, including off-dry riesling, gewürztraminer and red zinfandel. If you prefer beer, try a robust India pale ale. – Beppi Crosariol