My most favourite cuisine in the world has to be Chinese food. I adore almost all Asian cuisines but the one that is my go to – my comfort spot has to be Chinese cuisine. In Mumbai of course I have the Indo-Chinese or as Mr Vir Sanghvi would say the Punjabification of Chinese food as well and I’ll admit I relish that with as much vigor. I’ll always choose a Chinese restaurant to visit or want to order in fried rice and some sort of Chinese appetizer or gravy course. It’s comfort, it’s happiness and it’s also expensive if you do it often enough! Which is why I prefer to make it at home – I can control the amount of oil and use fresh ingredients and it helps that most recipes are really easy to make. Just like today’s Kung Pao Chicken!
What Is Kung Pao Chicken
This is a Chinese style stir fry chicken dish cooked with spring onions, dry chilies and peppers. It’s a spicy dish that originated in the Sichuan Provence of China and includes the famous Sichuan peppers. You’ll find various adaptations of this recipe across China and in fact the world
The truth is that like most recipes the Kung Pao has become such a favorite you’ll find different versions of it at different restaurants. I’ve tried to use a recipe that I see in most Chinese cook books or at traditional Chinese restaurants but specially if you’re in India, you’ll find several versions of Desi style Kung Pao chicken. I suppose there’s no right or wrong as long as YOU enjoy the taste of the dish.
You will find a lot of restaurants adding cashew nuts to their dish in stead of peanuts which is considered the original ingredient. You’ll also notice the inclusion of bell peppers or sometimes capsicum which seems to be the Chindian addition but if you like those please go ahead and add it right in.
450 grams on boneless chicken thighs (orbreast)
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce (Dark)
1 teaspoon Vinegar
1 tablespoon Tsao Husing Wine (Chinese Cooking Wine)
1 teaspoon Corn flour
1 Egg white
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Spring onions cut
6-7 Garlic cloves chopped finely
A knob of Ginger chopped finely
1-2 tablespoons of Peanuts
2 teaspoon Sichuan Pepper Corn
2-3 Dred Red Chilies(cut or whole)
1 teaspoon Corn flour in a slurry
Cut the chicken into small cubed pieces and add the salt, corn flour, vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, egg white and mix well. Let this marinate for a minimum of 30 mins.
In a wok or deep bottom pan add oil and cook the chicken for 12 mins. You can deep dry the chicken pieces or shallow fry. Just ensure that it cooks well for 12 mins. If you follow my method in the video just let it cook on one side without touching it for 6 minutes so it caramelized on one side and then toss it around to cook evenly. Once cooked set it aside in a plate.
In a fresh pan add oil and to that your chopped ginger, garlic and dried red chilies. Sautee and cook for a minute. You can cut the chilies for more heat or leave them whole like I did.
Add in the Sichuan Pepper Corns. I like to pound mine slightly so it releases a little flavour for more heat but you can leave them whole no problem. If you don’t have these or can’t find them then you can substitute with either a Sichuan sauce add a teaspoon of it or just regular pepper corn works.
Add the cooked chicken to the garlic ginger mix and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the spring onions and peanuts and cook for 5 minutes. At this stage if you want a dry Kung Pao chicken then you can switch off the flame and serve it.
If you’d like a slight sauce or just a more wet Kung Pao then add a cup of corn flour slurry and cook for another 5 mins till the sauce thickens. Serve hot and enjoy!
How To Serve Kung Pao
There’s no fixed rules on how to serve Kung Pao chicken. You can eat it as an appetizer on its own or enjoy it as a main course dish with Chinese fried rice or a quick wok tossed noodles. If you don’t feel fancy and are lazy to prepare another dish this works well with just plain steamed white rice too.
Can I substitute Sichuan Pepper Corn?
Ideally this is what makes the dish so I don’t recommend you substitute the Sichuan pepper corn in a Kung Pao chicken but as I have in the video you can use whole black pepper it’s just as good. If you want the heat of the Sichuan peppers you can even add a teaspoon of the Sichuan sauce or perhaps schezuan sauce to give it more spice. You can certainly add a bit of both the sauce and black pepper. I like to pound my pepper slightly so it released a bit of flavour you can do that as well depending on how spicy you like your food to be.