Today, I am sharing with you a popular Chinese recipe that is well-loved by many in the United States and all over the world, the famous Kung Pao chicken (宫保鸡丁, in Chinese). Kung Pao is a cooking technique originated from the Sichuan province of China; the authentic Sichuan Kung Pao chicken or Gong Bao Ji Ding calls for the staple Sichuan peppercorn for the numbing flavor, however, the version popular outside of Sichuan has since been adapted to many regional variations. For example in Malaysia, Kung Pao chicken is served without peanuts, but sometimes cashew nuts are used; in Thailand, fish sauce and sweet soy sauce are used to flavor a similar dish. However, the Kung Pao chicken we get in so-called Chinese restaurants is the heavy, gooey and greasy version that has nothing to do with the original recipe. You will also usually find all kinds of vegetables in the dish, such as carrots, water chestnuts, celery, zucchini, and even broccoli.
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into chunks
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 ounce hot chile paste
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts
4 ounces chopped peanuts
Let’s start by making the marinade. Combine 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture and mix together. Place chicken pieces in a glass dish or bowl and add marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Now, time to make the sauce. In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture, chili paste, vinegar and sugar. Mix together and add green onion, garlic, water chestnuts and peanuts. In a medium skillet, heat sauce slowly until aromatic.
Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade and saute in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. When sauce is aromatic, add sauteed chicken to it and let simmer together until sauce thickens. Serve Kung Pao chicken hot, with some steamed veggies or any side dish you prefer.