Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁) in Chinese is a stir-fried dish with chicken cubes, dried chili pepper and deep-fried peanuts. The tender taste of the chicken matches great with the crispy peanuts with a combined sweet, sour and spicy taste.
I made this famous Kung Pao chicken every month. I know that it is all loved Chinese food by people around the world.
I love it because it is real Sichuan style dish. The aroma bought by the combination of chili pepper flakes and Sichuan peppercorn is so fragrant. Kung Pao series dish is considered as one of the most popular one in Sichuan cuisine. Besides chicken, we also have Kung Pao Shrimp, Kung Pao tofu and my own creation: kong pao cauliflower etc.
I guess it would be funny to introduce a little bit about the history of Kung Pao Chicken.
The name of Kung Pao comes from a court official Ding Baozhen in Qing dynasty. The hero official Ding is a foodie who especially loves stir-fried diced chicken. During the time of being served as governor in Sichuan province, he frequently treats his guest with this dish and add dried chili peppers since People in Sichuan loves to eat hot chili. Later on, he is granted the title Taizi Shaobao also known as Kung Pao, which means the protector of the crown price. People name this dish after him to memory him.
In China, we usually use chicken thighs to make this dish rather than boneless chicken breasts. The meat of thighs is tenderer but requires more about the cutting skills. If you do not care about the shape, try to cook it with thigh.
One of the most famous Sichuan dish–kung pao chicken, made with chicken breast.
- 2 boneless chicken breasts (or 4 chicken thighs), cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup of skinless peanuts (you may use roasted peanuts and skip step 3 and step 4)
- 5 cm section scallion (only white part), cut into small section.
- 6~20 dried chili peppers (change the amount according how hot you wish it to be)
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorn or Sichuan peppercorn powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cooking wine
- 1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar(optional)
- Pat the chicken meat with the back of your knife and then cut the chicken into cubes with similar size. Put in a large bowl; add all the marinating sauce; mix well and marinade for around 15 minutes.
- Prepare a small bowl; add all the seasonings for the sauce together.
- Heat up around 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in wok and add skinless peanuts in when the oil is still cold. Toss continuously until the oil becomes boiling and there is pa-pa sound. Remove the peanuts out and filter the oil.
- Return the oil for frying peanuts back to the wok, heat up the oil until you can see waves on the surface. Slide the chicken in. Pan-fry until the color of chicken dices becomes white (no more stir frying in order to keep the tender taste). Transfer the chicken cubes out.
- Fry shallot, pepper flakes and Sichuan peppercorn with slow fire until aroma. Return the fried chicken. Turn up the fire and swirl the sauce.
- When the sauce is almost thickened, add deep-fried peanuts. Mix well, garnish chopped green onions and serve hot with steamed rice.
If you are using Sichuan peppercorn powder, add it along with the deep-fried peanuts.