Panda Management Company, Inc. (PMC), based in Southern California, has grown dynamically ever since 1983 when it opened its first Panda Express, its most successful operation. As that name suggests, Panda Express units are fast-service Chinese restaurants, now found in over 34 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Japan. Altogether, PMC manages over 300 Panda Express Restaurants, six Panda Inn Restaurants, eight Hibachi-San Restaurants, and seven Panda Panda locations. Panda Inns, the first of which opened in 1973, are all located in Southern California, as are the Panda Pandas, upscale, gourmet Chinese food restaurants. The Hibachi-San Restaurants, featuring Japanese cuisine, are located in shopping mall food courts, about half of which are at select sites outside California. The much more ubiquitous Panda Express Restaurants are located in five basic operating environments: mall food courts; supermarkets and retail chains; shopping centers and key intersections; university and college campuses; and airports, casinos, and sports arenas.
The Big Bowl Restaurant Recipe
Red Curry Paste:
30 dried red chilies
1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 bunched cilantro (roots and one inch of stems only)
15 garlic cloves
2/3 cup chopped white onion
3 stalks lemongrass (use bottom 2 inches only)
3/4 cup peanut oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons fish sauce (3 Crabs brand preferred)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Fresno peppers
1 1/2 lbs peanuts (fresh roasted is best, reserve 1/3 cup of chopped peanut for garnish)
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
4 cup chicken stock
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
For the Dish:
8 ounces chicken breast, sliced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons julienned fresh red sweet peppers or red fresnos if you want to go spicier
12 peapods, washed
1/4 cup shelled peas (fresh or frozen are fine)
2 tablespoons fresh red curry paste
1 cup of Panang base
2 cups jasmine rice, cooked as directed
2 tablespoons reserved chopped peanuts
Red Curry Paste: Over medium heat in a small skillet, toast the dried chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns until fragrant. Grind to a medium powder in a spice grinder or blender. Add the paprika to the spice mix.
Put the ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, and 1/4 cup of the peanut oil into a food processor and grind to a paste. Add the spice powder, salt, fish sauce and lemon juice and continue to blend. Remove the paste to a bowl and stir in cilantro stems (finely chopped). Transfer to a jar, top with 1/2 cup of oil, and refrigerate. It will keep a week or so. Mix before using.Makes about 2 cups.
Panang Sauce: Place peanuts through salt in a food processor, and process until smooth and liquid. Transfer to a large container and mix in the stock and coconut milk. Makes about 3 cups.
For the Dish: Toss the raw chicken with the cornstarch and sesame to marinate, and set aside.
Combine the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Set aside. Heat a clean wok over high heat and add 2 teaspoons of peanut oil. Add the chicken and cook about halfway, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the peas and pea pods and stir until well coated with oil. Push the vegetables slightly to one side and add the curry paste to the pan. Cook briefly, stirring, and add the panang sauce and bring to a boil. Add the fish sauce-lime juice mixture. Stir in just to heat, and serve with or over jasmine rice. Top with 2 tablespoons of reserved chopped peanuts.