Spicing Up the Weekend with Kung Pao Chicken

7 Sep

I brought back a large bag of Yunnan dried red chiles from my China trip in May and haven’t done a darn thing with them. Then it struck me, I could make a semi-authentic, personalized version of kung pao chicken (or in Chinese pinyin, gong bao ji ding) with these peppers. Since I have no familial connections to the southwest region of China, I consulted Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Sichuan Cooking for the recipe and varied it based on ingredients I had available.

2/3 lb boneless chicken breasts, diced into bite sized pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
5 scallions, white parts only, chopped
2 tbsp peanut oil (or canola oil)
a generous handful of dried red chiles (at least 10 to get an authentic level of heat, but adjust according to your tolerance), preferably Sichuanese (obviously I used Yunnanese), chopped. Discard seeds for less heat. Keep the seeds if you’re a daredevil.
1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorn (you can find Sichuan peppercorns in the spice aisle of most Asian grocery stores)
2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

For the marinade:
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine (also found at most Asian grocery stores, it’s usually the most expensive of the cooking rice wines) or sherry
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

For the sauce:
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp corn starch
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp black Chinese vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chicken broth

Place chicken pieces in a small bowl and mix in the marinade ingredients.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in wok over a high flame. When the oil is hot, add the chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until they are crisp and the oil is spicy and fragrant. Take care not to burn the spices.

Quickly add the chicken and fry over a high flame, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and continue to stir-fry for a few minutes until they are fragrant and the meat is cooked through.

Add previously mixed sauce into the wok, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir them in, and serve.

Serve with steamed rice and simple stir fried veggies like boy choy or bean sprouts (I actually did Japanese eggplant). Serves 2-3.

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6 Responses to “Spicing Up the Weekend with Kung Pao Chicken”

  1. gammypie 09/08/2008 at 6:07 am #

    This looks delightful!

  2. foodczar 09/08/2008 at 10:12 am #

    Sichuan cooking is my favorite style of Chinese. And I love Kung Pao anything, no matter what it’s called.

    Which brings me to a very good point, Donna, and I guess you’d be the person to ask: When did Peking become Beijing and why? Is it because Beijing is more correct in Chinese??
    I’m sorry, my ignorance is showing!

  3. donnaaries 09/08/2008 at 11:07 am #

    Czar, I think this website has the exact answer you’re looking for: http://www.logoi.com/notes/peking-beijing.html

    In short, it has never changed its spelling, neither has Canton to Guandong or Szechuan to Sichuan. We’re just slowly adjusting out of our old westernized spelling habits.

  4. foodczar 09/08/2008 at 11:15 am #

    Thanks so much, Donna. I knew you wouldn’t duck the Peking question!!

  5. Margie 09/08/2008 at 5:58 pm #

    This is making me want to go out for something spicy for dinner. Those chicken thighs I have thawing just don’t sound that good anymore!

  6. sinorhetor 09/11/2008 at 5:06 pm #

    Donna,

    The Gongbao Jiding looks so wonderful. I think you can challenge your Dad. Want a competition some time or still stick to enjoying the food he cooks?

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