Speak of Chinese food, Kung Pao chicken is probably the first thing that comes to people’s mind. As a Chinese myself, I feel obligation to cook this dish right.
In Beijing, so many restaurants serve Kung Pao chicken and you’ll find every place has its own way to prepare the dish. The authentic way to prepare the dish, requires cutting the chicken into small squares, like size of a dice. The idea is, the chicken, peanuts and chopped green onion should have the same size after cooking. There is no sugar, no vinegar in the sauce. Sometimes cucumber squares are added, in order to bring out nicer color and texture of the whole dish.
However, the version of Kung Pao that I like tastes a bit sweet and sour beyond spicy. I also like to keep the chicken chunks bigger, in order create a meaty bite. I’ve been making a lot of experiments to create the sauce and I finally find the nice ratio to create a perfect Kung Pao Chicken sauce! The recipe below looks a bit long, but trust me, it is really easy to cook by mix the sauce beforehand. It only takes you 30 minutes to put a hot and rich main dish on the dinner table.
- 1 chicken breast, cut into 2.5mm cubes
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- a handful of raw peanuts (approx. 30 peanuts)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 6 dried chili pepper
- 2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
- 2 stalks scallion, chop white part into 1 cm chunks (about 10 chuncks)
- 1 big clove garlic, minced (1 tablespoon minced garlice)
- 2 slices ginger, minced (1 teaspoon minced ginger)
- ◯ Perfect Kung Pao Sauce
- - 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- - 1.5 tablespoon rice vinegar
- - 1 tablespoon white sugar
- - 1 tablespoon cooking wine
- green onion for garnish (option)
- 2 cups of cooked rice
- Add chicken, soy sauce and cornstarch into a small bowl, mix well by hand, and marinate about 15 minutes in room temperature.
- Add 2 tablespoon oil into a non-sticky pan, toast peanuts on medium heat till peanuts start to crack and turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Scoop out peanuts by colander and let cool in a plate.
- There should be still about 1 tablespoon of hot oil left in the pan. Add in chicken and grill on medium high heat. Flip the chicken sometimes and cook until the surface turns golden brown, in 2 to 3 minutes. Take chicken out and put in a plate.
- Add the rest oil, peppercorn and pepper into the same pan by medium low heat, fry until peppers turn to dark red, in about 2 minutes. Use a colander to scoop out peppercorns and peppers. Add in scallion, garlic and ginger, turn to medium heat, stir a few seconds, till you can smell the fragrant. Add in chicken and Kung Pao Sauce, stir constantly to let the sauce thicken, in about 2 minutes. Add in peanuts and give it a quick mix, turn off heat immediately.
- Garnish with green onion and serve hot with rice.
2. For the sauce in this recipe, it will generate the right amount to coat the chicken. 3. If you want more sauce to have with rice, double or triple the amount in the recipe.
You could use toasted almonds to substitute peanuts.
PS: In the picture, I used the cool method to make curved green onion from Steamy Kitchen. Those little things made a normal dish looks perfect!