Kung Pao “anything” is a favorite Chinese dish. When we lived in the country there was a little Chinese restaurant in a neighboring village and we would sometimes go there for a quick meal and I always ordered this. Authentic, definitely not, but it was good and our choices were very limited unless I cooked. Our village only had a pizza parlor, an Italian restaurant (known for their pizzas) and occasionally a new restaurant would appear but usually did not last long.
As the years go by I enjoy cooking more authentic dishes and not the typical “American version”. This recipe was inspired by “Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories” by Grace Young. This is an excellent reference on Chinese cooking. In addition to great recipes Grace gives detailed information on “woks”, ingredients and stir-frying. I did find that she uses more minced ginger than I care for in many of her recipes. This recipe listed 2 tbsp. and I used 1-1/2 tbsp.
Kung Pao Chicken, Adapted
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
- 1 to 1-1/2 tbsp. ginger, minced (use the side of a spoon to peel the skin and a zester to mince it)
- 1 tbsp. garlic, minced using a garlic press
- 2-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. plus 1 tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine or you can use sherry vinegar, divided
- 2 tsp. sugar, divided
- 3/4 tsp. salt, divided
- 1 tsp. cold water
- 2 tbsp. chicken broth
- 1 tbsp. Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. peanut oil, divided
- 4 dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end (includes the seeds) add more if desired
- 1/2 tsp. roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
- 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1/2 cup scallions, snipped into strips
- snipped chives for garnish
Combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 tsp. rice wine, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. cold water. In another bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil and the remaining 1 tbsp. rice wine.
Roast your Sichuan peppercorns in a dry skillet on low heat. Lift the skillet and check if you can smell their wonderful aroma. Cool and finely grind.
Heat your wok and swirl in 1 tbsp. peanut oil, add the chilies and ground Sichuan peppercorns. Stir fry until the chilies just begin to smoke. Add the chicken allowing it to sear and cook until lightly browned but not cooked through.
Add the remaining peanut oil and stir fry the bell peppers. Swirl the broth mixture and stir-fry 1 minute or until chicken is cooked through. Add the peanuts, scallions and sprinkle on the remaining 1 tsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp. salt and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Linking to Fiesta Friday #156!