Kung Pao Chicken (also called Kung Po or Gong Bao) is a stir fried cubed chicken dish with nuts, red chili peppers, bell peppers and onions.
It is a very tasty Chinese chicken dish that is very quick to make and has become one of my family's absolute favorite weeknight dinners. We have served it many times to guests as well, and always gotten positive feedback.
In China, the dish is traditionally made with peanuts and Sichuan peppercorns, a spice famous for creating a tingly, numbing sensation in the mouth. In America, Kung Pao chicken has been slightly changed from the authentic Chinese recipe because until 2005 it was illegal to import the Sichuan peppercorns into the United States. The US Government were concerned the peppers could spread a bacterial disease to domestic plants. American chefs adapted the dish to include black pepper instead. I use any dried red hot chili peppers I can find at the store, not black peppercorns. If you can't find dried red chilies, you can use the red pepper flakes one use on top of pizza.
We have lived in our current city for 10 years and have yet not found a good Chinese restaurant. The ones we have tried have either served us food that was way to oily/greasy or way to sweet. Have they become too americanized? Where we lived before, we had a great Chinese restaurant, which we of course miss tremendously. The only way to get decent Chinese food in our current city is to make it ourselves. Hope you will love this Kung Pao Chicken recipe I came up with after plenty of trial and errors as much as we do. Keep in mind this recipe is closer to the original Chinese recipe, not sweet and americanized. If you like it sweet you need to look for another recipe.
What I like the most about Kung Po Chicken is the nuts. I use either salted pea nuts or cashew nuts, but prefer the pea nuts as I love how salty they are.
Her is how you make it:
1. Cut the chicken into bite size cubes.
2. In a bowl large enough to fit the chicken cubes, mix together 1 tsp. corn starch and 1 tbsp. water. Stir it into a paste. Add salt and egg white and mix. Add the chicken cubes and stir to coat the chicken pieces well. Let the chicken marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. If you have whole dried red hot chili peppers (or Sichuan peppercorns) add 4-5 of them into a glass of water and let them soak for a few minutes.
4. Cut the bell peppers into small triangles or cubes. Cut the scallions into short sections. Cut the half onion into triangles. Cut the ginger into small strips.
5. Put all the rest of the ingredients next to the stove top so you don't have to start looking for them during cooking.
6. Heat the oil in a wok on high, add the red peppers and peanuts or cashews and stir fry for one minute.
7. Add the chicken and stir fry for one more minute.
8. Add the scallion, ginger, and green bell pepper. Stir fry for 1 minute then add the black bean sauce and sherry wine.
9. Blend well and stir fry for 1 more minute. You may have to cook for a little while longer depending on the size of your chicken cubes. Check one cube to make sure it has no pink inside. Finally stir in the sesame oil. Serve with steamed rice (I use Jasmine).
This recipe serves 4 people.
Here is what you need:
1 lb. Chicken breast or thigh cut into cubes
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg white
4-5 dried red chillies soaked in water (or you can use 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes depending on if you like spicy food or not - no need to soak the flakes)
1 bunch scallion cut into short sections
½ onion cut into triangles
a few small slices of fresh ginger
1 green bell pepper cut into cubes or triangles
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons black bean sauce or yellow bean sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
4 ½ ounces salted cashews or peanuts
A few drops of sesame oil
Steamed rice, to serve
Cooking instructions above.