Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken, also translated as Gong Bao or Kung Po, is a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers. This is a classic dish in Sichuan cuisine, originating in Sichuan Province in south-western China. It includes those delightfully fragrant and spicy Sichuan peppercorns and is  one of the most popular Chinese dishes in America. Its delicious sauce of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors is addictive… For years, the USA version was bereft of Sichuan peppercorns due to an import ban, but these days Sichuan peppercorns are available in “Chinatown” shops and gourmet chains.

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 8 to 10 dried red chilies
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

Preparation

  1. Marinate the chicken: In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the chicken and stir gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Prepare the sauce: In another bowl, combine the black vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch, and Sichuan pepper. Stir until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved and set aside.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the chilies and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until the chilies have just begun to blacken and the oil is slightly fragrant.
  4. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
  6. Pour in the sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients.
  7. Stir in the peanuts and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle the scallion greens on top, and serve.

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