I first tried this recipe from Kylie Kwong's cookbook, My China and have made this dish a few times since then. I love this version. At first I was rather surprised to see this rather light version, from the photo in the book, as the Kung Po Chicken that I am familiar with is coated with dark thick sauce. When eating out at Chinese restaurants, Kung Po Chicken would be one of the frequently ordered dish, cooked with the signature ingredient, dried chillies, and usually with cashew nuts or peanuts.
According to the author, "Although I have eaten several versions of Kung Po Chicken in Chinese restaurants around the world, none of them prepared me for this lip-smacking authentic version".
I have made this dish with both chicken breast fillets and chicken thigh fillets, both are delicious, but we prefer the thigh fillet. I have omitted the peanuts as we do not care for peanuts in the dish. This dish has no sauce, but it is moist and delicious. Good with white fluffy rice, served alongside some stir-fry greens and a bowl of herbal soup. It has now secured a place in my list of "everyday dishes"!
Kung Po Chicken
(My China, by Kylie Kwong)
600gm chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tablespoons Shao Hsing wine
2 tablespoons peanut oil
10 small dried chillies
2 tablespoons peanut oil, extra
5cm (2in) piece ginger, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
pinch Sichuan pepper and salt
Combine chicken with cornflour and Shao Hsing wine in a bowl. Cover, place in refrigerator and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
Place oil and chillies in a cold wok and then turn heat to low. Cook for about 1-1/2 minutes or until chillies begin to darken slightly. Using a slotted spoon, immediately remove chillies and drain on kitchen paper.
Leaving chilli-infused oil in wok, turn heat up to high and stir-fry half the chicken cubes for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add extra oil to wok with remaining chicken and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Return all chicken to wok, along with ginger and reserved chillies and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Add sugar and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add peanuts, soy sauce and vinegar and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Sichuan pepper and salt.
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