Friday, January 22, 2016

Kung Pao Chicken

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on Cookbook Countdown, please click here. Do join us! 


Cookbook Countdown #1 : Recipe No. 5
from my selected cookbook for this month, Stir-Frying To The Sky's Edge by Grace Young.

Kung Pao Chicken is a dish that is a favourite of many. It is one of the dishes that we would often order when we eat out at Chinese restaurants. There are many versions of Kung Pao Chicken. According to Grace Young, this version is one of her favourites. As with most stir-fry dishes, this is great as a main dish with rice. 

I have used cashew nuts instead of peanuts, as I have always prefer cashew nuts in Kung Pao Chicken. I have one green bell pepper instead of red, so I have used that instead. I have omitted the powdered Sichuan peppercorns, simply because I have forgotten to toast the whole Sichuan peppercorns and ground them into powder. Whole Sichuan peppercorn tastes quite pungent, so I have not included them in the dish. Note to self, to make some powdered Sichuan peppercorns, as there are some other recipes that uses this ingredient. There's an ingredient which I've completely forgotten to add into the dish, my half cup of chopped scallions! I've found my small bowl of chopped scallions hidden behind some bowls when I began to clear away the dishes after dinner! Nevertheless, this is a tasty dish! 

Kung Pao Chicken
(adapted from "Stir-Frying To The Sky's Edge", by Grace Young, or here)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
4 to 8 dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end
1/2 teaspoon roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns (omitted this)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (I use cashew nuts)
1/2 cup minced scallions

  1. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.
  2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the chillies and ground Sichuan peppercorns, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 15 seconds or until the chillies just begin to smoke. Push the chilli mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through.
  3. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil into the wok. Add the bell peppers and stir-fry 1 minute or until the peppers begin to soften. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is just cooked through. Add the peanuts and scallions, sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the scallions are bright green.

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  1. Joyce, this is one of my favourite Chinese dishes. And I too love cashews!

  2. Hi Joyce,
    So tasty ! This is my favourite and it's a 'love hate' dish for me cos tend to eat more rice with it.

  3. I absolutely love kung pao chicken! This looks delicious!

  4. I absolutely love dishes like this one, Joyce! I've made something similar but it wasn't called Kung Pao chicken. Now I need to try this one :)

  5. Joyce, this is my favorite at the Chinese Restaurant. If I am not mistaken, it's called "Kai Teng" or something like that hah..hah..

  6. Looks delish, cannot remember if I made it before....