Kung Pao chicken, which originated in China, is a spicy stir fry consisting of chicken, peanuts, vegetables and chili peppers.

The dish is a part of Sichuan cuisine located in the Sichuan province in South West China and has been around for centuries.

It was actually named after late Ding Baozhen, who served as governor of the Sichuan province in the late 1800s.

Although the ingredient list isn’t long, the ones that are used add a new depth of flavor to the sauce creating a satisfying recipe.

Shaoxing wine is added to the chicken marinade to do just this, and the spices — such as garlic, ginger and chili peppers — are toasted beforehand to give off a pleasing smell.

Nowadays, Kung Pao chicken is a staple dish on many Chinese restaurant menus, and there is even a westernized version available at your local takeout.

In these versions of the dish, chicken can often times be substituted for pork, duck, fish or tofu.

There are also added vegetables and sometimes even orange juice to balance out the spices.

If you’d like to learn how to make this recipe for yourself, follow the steps below!

Recipe

  1. Combine all ingredients for the chicken in a shallow bowl; cover and marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk sauce ingredients together until sugar dissolves; set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet, pan or wok over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, allow to heat up, then add marinated chicken. Fry chicken for 3-4 minutes while occasionally stirring, until edges are browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Add remaining cooking oil into the same pan/wok. Stir in garlic, ginger, chili diced peppers (capsicums) and Sichuan peppercorns and stir fry for 1 minute.
  5. Give the prepared sauce a mix, then pour it into the pan and bring it to a boil while stirring.
  6. Once it begins to thicken slightly, add chicken back into the pan/wok and mix all of the ingredients through the sauce until the chicken is evenly coated and sauce has thickened, (about 2 minutes).
  7. Stir in green onions, peanuts and sesame oil. Toss well and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes to infuse all of the flavours together.
  8. Serve immediately with steamed/cooked rice or fried rice!

Ingredients

Chicken
  • 28 ounces (800g) boneless/skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch / corn flour
Sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 5 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar(or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing wine(or dry sherry)
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch / corn flour
Stir fry
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic (4-6 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 8-10 dried chilies cut into ½-inch pieces (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns,lightly toasted and ground**
  • 4 green onion / scallion stems cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup roasted/unsalted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil, optional

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