What is Kung Pao Chicken?
Kung pao chicken is a classic Sichuan dish that originated in Sichuan Province of China. This dish consists of stir-fried chicken, peanuts, and vegetables. It's traditionally made with specialty ingredients, like Sichuan peppercorns, black vinegar, and Chinese rice wine. It is not only a popular dish in China but also a dish that is loved all around the world and can be seen in many Chinese restaurants and takeout menus.
What makes kung pao chicken so popular? This dish is a perfect combination of sweet, and tangy, with a little bit of kick from the Sichuan peppercorns. It is a dish that encompasses many flavor profiles for the perfect bite. Pair it with some white rice for a hearty and delicious meal.
Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
The key ingredient in kung pao chicken is the Sichuan peppercorn also known as Chinese prickly ash pepper. This is a spice commonly used in Sichuan cuisine. When eaten it produces a tingling, numbing effect which is unique to many Sichuan dishes.
When combined with chili peppers it creates a flavor known as mala or "numb-spiciness". Make sure to cook the peppercorns in oil first to bring out the spicy flavor. You can also grind them using a mortar and pestle or grinder if you prefer, but the peppercorns are used whole most of the time.
Fortunately, this dish is very easy to recreate at home! The key is to prepare ingredients before cooking because once you start the fire, it is a fairly quick cooking time. I love using Huang Fei Hong Spicy Crispy Peanuts in this dish because it not only speeds up the cooking process but it also adds a lot of additional flavor to the dish.
However, if you are using raw shelled peanuts, you can toast them in oil beforehand to bring out the sweet nutty flavor.
- 1lb chicken thigh
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 pack peanuts
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp black vinegar
- Dash of white pepper
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp peppercorn
- Minced garlic
- Sliced ginger
- Cut the chicken into small cubes (about 1in) then put them into a bowl.
- Add cornstarch and water. Mix until no more liquid can be seen.
- Add sesame oil. Stir to coat the chicken evenly. Set aside
- For the sauce, add all the sauce ingredients to a bowl. Mix well then set aside.
- Heat a wok over high heat. Pour in oil then add Sichuan pepper.
- As soon as you smell the fragrance from the spices, put in the marinated chicken. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Add scallions, garlic & ginger. Continue frying until the chicken completely loses its pink color
- Give the sauce a good stir then pour into the wok. Stir to evenly coat the chicken. Turn off the heat as soon as the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the toasted peanuts.
- Plate and serve