Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken!

I really do love to cook. Even after a long day at work, coming home and making dinner doesn't seem like a chore. I mean, afterall, that was the whole point of this, right?! I had a lot of fun with this dish. I got really tired of my old go-to stir fry, so I decided I needed another way to cook meat and veggies and serve with rice. I LOVE Kung Pao chicken when I've ordered it in the past. Why not make my own? I had a blast hanging out in the kitchen messing with different ingredients (and enjoying a glass of white wine, I must say!) to get just the taste I was looking for.

I tweaked a couple different recipes and read up on Kung Pao Chicken so that I could really try to get the flavor right. It was definitely not standard stir-fry! I thought the flavor was great and the spice was just right. Definitely a little heat, but nothing bad at all. Don't be concerned at the number of ingredients. Many of them you probably have on hand, and the ones you don't I'm sure are worth the investment! They're not expensive and will likely last a long time.

There weren't many leftovers, but what we had the hubs has already done away with... I think that's the sign of a successful meal!

Kung Pao Chicken
adapted from Cooks Illustrated via The Way the Cookie Crumbles

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. grated or minced ginger
5 - 6 scallions, white parts and light green parts chopped
2 large chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper, chopped
7 whole red chiles
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 - 1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

1 tbsp. dry sherry
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. chicken broth

1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Toss in the chicken and marinade at least 10 minutes. While this is marinating is a good time to prepare the ginger, garlic, red pepper, and scallions.
Meanwhile, mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the chicken. Once the chicken is browned, add the chiles whole. I was somewhat careful not to break them apart once I added them to the pan so that the seeds wouldn't be released and make the dish super spicy. Not sure if this is legitimate, but it seemed to work. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk the sauce again to recombine and add it to the pan; cook until slightly thickened. Last, add the green onions and peanuts and mix everything thoroughly.

Serve over rice. Trust me, it won't last long!

*This dish would be pretty easy to turn vegetarian. If I was going to do that I would use tofu because I think it would hold the marinade better than some other substitutes. Feel free to keep us posted if you try it one way or the other!

**The only thing I would change is to make more sauce next time. The dish was still tasty, but I tend to like things extra saucy. So I would up the broth to 3/4 cup and adjust other flavors accordingly.


  1. OK, I'm finally ready to post about this one! I love kung pao, & I was really excited to try this recipe. So I did (with tofu, of course ;-P
    The sauce was really really delicious & tangy & all sorts of wonderful things...but it was not hot. Anyone who knows me knows what a disappointment that was for me! As suggested in the recipe, I was super-careful with the chilies. Apparently that was necessary, at least for me. So 2 weeks later, I decided to try again. (Yes, it was THAT good, I didn't mind having it again so soon!) I took 3 of the chilies & sliced them open longways so that the membranes & seeds were exposed, & the seeds were able to circulate (social little things that they are). I left the rest of the chilies whole. All I can say is - WOW, it was awesome! Just the right amount of spicy heat to make my mouth really happy. & when I had leftovers a couple days later, it was a little hotter, but not unbearably so. I'm happy that I tried it again with the adjustment, because now I'm certain this is going to be my go-to stir fry. Yum. Thanks Allie!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thanks for posting, Mom! I am really looking forward to trying it your way too, I hope I can handle the heat. So glad you enjoyed this!