Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kung Pao Chicken

To me, Kung Pao chicken is Chinese comfort food. It's one of those guilty pleasures that I find myself frequently making a batch of on Thursday nights when I have little desire desire to cook after a long week of work.

For my latest dose of Kung Pao chicken, I improvised quite a bit based on the ingredients I had on hand. I adapted a recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop, substituting shallots for the a few garlic cloves and adding a healthy dose of spinach. Although it was not quite the real deal, it was completely delicious. For authentic Kung Pao chicken, just omit the spinach addition and shallot-for-garlic substitution.

Eddie's Kung Pao Chicken
Serves 4

  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 lbs. chicken breasts (or thighs), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 6 dried chiles
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 1 handful of unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced

  1. Mix cornstarch with wine in a large bowl and whisk until cornstarch dissolves. Add chicken to bowl and mix well to coat pieces with cornstarch mixture.
  2. Add oil to wok or large skillet and heat over high heat. Add dried chiles to pan and cook until they are blackened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add shallots and ginger to pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add chicken to wok and cook, stirring constantly, until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to low. Add sugar and soy sauce and mix well. Simmer until sauce has thickened slightly, about five minutes.
  6. Add spinach and stir until wilted, about two minutes.
  7. Remove pan from heat. Mix in peanuts, scallion, and sesame oil and serve.

1 comment:

  1. Fuchsia Dunlop's original recipe can be found here --

    It includes garlic, dark soy sauce (which is very thick), Chinkiang (or black Chinese) vinegar, sichuan peppercorns (which add a numbing sensation) and chicken stock (or water).

    It is the best Kung Pao Chicken recipe I've found (or tasted). Wonderful balance of sweet, sour, spicy, and numbing sensations.

    Well worth going to an Asian market to find authentic ingredients. Depending upon your location, I doubt if you'd order Kung Pao Chicken ever again - unless you're not in the mood to cook!



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