Kung Pao Chicken

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!


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38 thoughts on “Kung Pao Chicken

  1. This is my FAVORITE Chinese dish- your photos are mouthwatering! My son had to order a dish from a local Chinese restaurant to eat for lunch today at their school’s Chinese New Year celebration. I couldn’t convince him to order this because he didn’t want the peanuts! The nuts add so much to the dish for me. I’m going to show him your post tonight! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL – Children are so cute and honest about their food. The nuts add a nice crunch and I should have added more. I will never have Kung Pao again in a Chinese restaurant when I can make such a better recipe at home. It’s certainly worth the work… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Judi,
    Your kung pao looks so yummy and inviting! I am so happy to have this recipe.Perfect timing with Chinese New year too! I had forgotten about this fabulous cookbook- remember reading it a few years ago and loving it.


  3. Wow! What a great, detailed recipe Judi. I love how authentic it is too. I don’t believe I’ve ever had Kung Pao before, but I’ll certainly give this a try now. Its been ages since I’ve eaten at a Chinese restaurant, so it looks like I’m missing something. I happen to love ginger, I can’t get enough of it, so I would probably use the recommended amount. Ginger really aids in digestion too. Overall a great recipe, and just in time for the Chinese New Year. I noticed you’ve changed your colors too? Very nice 🙂


    • Thanks Loretta – it’s a great recipe and of course other veggies could be added. I’ve seen recipes with celery and bamboo shoots. I love ginger too and always have some in my refrigerator. Her recipes are a little too heavy on the ginger – just a tad though. Thanks for noticing my color change – just something a little brighter 🙂


  4. Excellent recipe. Looks delish! I’ve followed you as your page is very inspiring. I hope you do the same, as you may find mine the same, I practice naked cooking like jamie oliver, I’m conducting the half-blood princess project.


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