Kung Pao Chicken – Few people would be surprised to learn that a large proportion of Chinese food restaurants in America have adopted the dishes to please local palates. If you traveled to China, you would discover the recipes vary from one region to the next, but here in the states, they could vary within a restaurant based on the cook.
Now should you try the fast food type teriyaki restaurant generally run by Korean individuals, the dishes will reflect their version of Chinese and Japanese dishes.
In our small corner of California, this was true of the neighborhood teriyaki restaurant run by an elder Korean lady.
Case in point was their version of Kung Pao Chicken, it had a noticeably sweet garlic flavor and leaned heavily toward the heat. Personally, I loved how the heat challenged you to grab another bite. I often ordered their version because it was so tasty.
Unfortunately, this dish varies greatly, dependent upon where you order it. You can usually count on roasted peanuts and mouth murdering Sichuan peppers. Dried chili peppers coupled with the Sichuan created a taste that for me is practically irresistible.
The good news is creating savory Kung Pao Chicken isn’t really too hard if you have the proper ingredients at your disposal. I decided today would be the time to post my favorite version of a recipe I thoroughly enjoy.
To be honest, I hardly ever order it out anymore, partly because it is difficult to pay 4 times what I know it costs to make the dish and of course, I like my version the best.
Do you enjoy Kung Pao Chicken? If you are ready to try your hand, this is a good recipe to start with. Hey, you could even adapt it to your own tastes. After a few tries, you will probably never order it to go again.
Some prefer cashews, but I tend to gravitate toward dry roasted peanuts. Another change I made was using chicken thigh meat rather than breast. Not only are thighs cheaper, but they also tend to have a bit more flavor.
If you lean toward hotter foods, add more chili peppers and if you want a full-on meal, stir fry it with asparagus, broccoli or bok choy. Steamed white rice is a crowd pleaser, but honestly, I enjoy it more with brown rice.
The takeaway? Create a dish that fits your style and most importantly, your taste buds!
Get the recipe below and enjoy! If you’ve tried the recipe or have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know below! Also, if you’ve tried it, we’d be happy to hear how it turned out.
Kung Pao Chicken
Do you enjoy Kung Pao Chicken? This is a good recipe to start with. Hey, you could even adapt it to your own tastes. After a few tries, you will probably never order it to go again.
- 1 lb chicken breast / thigh
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine (or dry sherry)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp dark sauce
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp black vinegar
- 3 tbsp sugar (add more if you want sweet)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 or 2 tbsp Chinese Cooking wine (or dry sherry)
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 5 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- 10 dried chili peppers (cut & take off the seeds)
- 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns (toasted and lightly grind - this process is optional*)
- 4-6 stalks scallions
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Marinate the chicken by adding the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Prepare the sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil over high heat. Cook the marinated chicken and place in a bowl. Set aside.
- In the same wok add another tablespoon oil (in low-medium heat). Add the ginger, garlic, chilies, and Szechuan peppercorns. Stir and cook for 30 seconds or a minute to infuse the flavor on the oil.
- Now, stir up your prepared Kung Pao sauce as the cornstarch may have settled to the bottom, so make sure it’s well incorporated.
- Pour the sauce into the wok and let it boil. Add 1/4 cup of water and 1 tbsp of sugar (optional if you don't want sweet).
- Keep stirring until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
- Add the cooked chicken back to the wok/pot and stir fry all together. Now, you can add the scallions and the unsalted peanuts.
- Give everything a final stir and serve hot with jasmine rice.
1. If black vinegar is not available, you may use apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar or red wine vinegar.
2. Adjust the saltiness level accordingly as soy sauce has different level of sodium. If your sauce tastes too salty, just add more sugar and water.