Whether sitting in a beautifully decorated Chinese restaurant in a cosmopolitan city or ordering from the takeout menu of your local Chinese restaurant around the corner, Kung Pao, Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts is probably one of the most popular dishes ordered in American Chinese restaurants today.
If you don’t have a good Chinese restaurant just right around the corner from where you live, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have Kung Pao at home as it is very easy to prepare yourself. It is a dish typically prepared by stir frying chicken with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili peppers and peanuts. Don’t like chicken, use beef, shrimp or tofu. Can’t eat peanuts, you can substitute cashew nuts instead. If you like vegetables in your stir fry, no problem. Add the veggies you like, that is the pleasure of being a cook in your own home.
Kung Pao is a recipe that can be put together very quickly so make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking. The mincing and dicing will always takes longer than the actual cooking of stir fry meals.
Kung Pao, Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts
Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. rice wine, sherry, or white wine
Combine chicken, cornstarch and wine in a bowl, stir to coat and refrigerate 30 minutes.
- 1 Tbsp. Chinese black vinegar, if available, or use balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp. ground Szechuan pepper, or to taste
- 3 Tbsp. rice wine, sherry or white wine
Combine the vinegar, soy, hoisin, ginger, sesame oil, pepper and wine in a small bowl.
- 2 Tbsp. peanut oil, more if needed
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 small onion, chopped (optional)
- 6 – 8 dried chili peppers (more or less depending on how hot you want the dish)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 green onions, sliced (optional)
- 1/4 c. roasted peanuts
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet until hot but not smoking. Add the chopped red bell pepper and onion and cook until just softened. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the chicken and cook for about 1 minute, stirring until the chicken turns white. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the peppers and onions. Add the dried chili peppers and the garlic and cook about 15 seconds then add the sauce and stir. Add the chicken, bell peppers, and onions and cook about 1 or 2 minutes until the chicken is done. Add the green onions and peanuts, stir to coat and serve.
This spicy Chinese dish is full of flavor and doesn’t take too long to prepare. When I serve a dinner that can be basically brown like this one, I like to add color where I can so I added red bell pepper which is not always typical to the dish. I also served stir fried broccoli that was cooked with garlic and a little sesame oil along with brown rice. I believe that Kung Pao prepared at home can be a healthier dinner compared to one that you might get at your favorite restaurant that may have been deep fried. I hope you will try making Szechuan style chicken with peanuts and that you will enjoy it as much as I do.