I’ve been cooking a lot of American-style Chinese food at home lately. One of my favorite dishes to order out is Kung Pao chicken. This dish actually originates from the Sichuan province and is prepared pretty close in the US to the way it’s prepared in China. In Chinese cooking, dishes are typically very heavy on either meats or vegetables, not both like you find here. This dish is almost all chicken, but here in the US we add some bell peppers for sweetness. My recipe is a little heavy on the sauce (as is typical in the US), but it doesn’t stray far from the standard dish.
Kung Pao Chicken
I’m actually going to divide this recipe into three parts to make it easier to prep.
- 1 pound chicken breasts (or thighs), cubed into 1″ pieces
- 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Shao Hsing rice wine
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine
- 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice wine vineagar
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- Canola oil (2 tablespoons?)
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 dried red chilies, sliced in half lengthwise (discard seeds for less heat)
- 2 small bell peppers, cut into 1″ squares
- 3/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
- 4 scallions, sliced (save dark green tips for garnishing)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon salt
Mix the chicken marinade in a bowl and add the chicken. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Mix the sauce in a bowl. Be sure to break up all of the corn starch. Chop the vegetables and have them ready to go. This whole meal cooks in about five minutes. I have 15,000 BTUs on the side-burner of my grill, so I do my wok cooking outside. It helps with the smell and the smoke too.
Heat your pan or wok on high heat. Remove from the heat and add about a tablespoon of canola oil. It should smoke. Turn the wok to coat all sides with oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and peppers and immediately shake. They should brown almost instantly. This is to season the oil. Immediately add the chicken and shake to form an even layer. Allow the chicken to cook until it starts to brown and then stir-fry to cook most of the way through. You’ll finish it in the sauce, so just cook most of the moisture off. Remove the chicken to the bowl and allow the wok to heat back up.
This all moves pretty quickly, but I still like to catch some TV when I cook alone. I was watching Terminator on Netflix when I cooked this meal.
Add another tablespoon of canola oil to the wok and swirl to coat all sides. Next, add the bell peppers and stir-fry for a minute until they blister. Add the sauce and stir to incorporate. Then add the chicken and peanuts and allow the sauce to reduce by about a third, stirring occasionally.
Finally, add the green onions and salt and stir to mix. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Remove the wok from the heat. Discard the chili peppers if you desire. Serve the kung pao chicken with jasmine rice and garnish with the reserved green onions.