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Kung Pao Chicken - A Sichuan Classic

Loosely based on a recipe by Tyler Florence, this dish is restaurant worthy.  I've longed for an authentic version of Kung Pao that could rival the best I've found in my favorite Sichuan eateries, and this fills the bill.  This can easily be adapted for beef, chicken or shrimp.  Don't let the long list of ingredients deter you.  By having everything ready to go before you fire up your wok, this will come together quickly and easily.

1 pounds

Boneless chicken (see notes)

2 tablespoon   

peanut oil

cup   

unsalted, roasted peanuts

3- 4 whole   

dried chilies de Arbol or equivalent (adjust for heat)

1 tablespoon   

minced garlic

1 tablespoon   

minced ginger

1 tablespoon   

ground Sichuan peppercorns

3 whole   

scallions, cut on bias in " pieces

1 whole   

red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 ribs   

celery, sliced on bias

cup   

cornstarch

cup   

water


Marinade

1 tablespoon

soy sauce

1 tablespoon

Chinese rice cooking wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cornstarch
  teaspoon kosher salt


Sauce

1 tablespoon Oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry

1 tablespoon

Chinese black vinegar (see notes)

1 teaspoon   

sugar

1 cup   

chicken broth

Trim the fat from the chicken and cut into 1" cubes.  Combine the marinade ingredients and add the chicken and stir to coat.   Marinate 30 minutes to an hour, covered,  in the fridge

While the meat is marinating prepare the vegetables and set aside.  Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.  Using the cornstarch and water, make a slurry and set aside.

Place the wok over high heat and allow it to get quite hot.  Place oil in the wok and swirl to coat the sides.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and stir fry, working in batches so as not to cool down the wok.  You want to sear the chicken nicely without overcooking, about a minute or so on one side and then a minute on the other.  Remove from wok and set aside.

If necessary add a little additional oil.  Add the chilies and cook until they begin to darken, about a minute or so.  

Add the garlic, ginger and Szechwan pepper and stir fry for about 30 seconds or until quite aromatic.  Add the scallions, bell pepper, peanuts and celery and continue to stir fry until veggies are crisp-tender, about 1-2 minutes or so.

Add the sauce and allow it to come to a boil. Add the cornstarch slurry slowly, a little at a time, until the sauce is thickened to your taste.

Return the chicken to the wok and cook until just heated through.  Serve immediately over white rice.

Notes:

  1. Black Chinese vinegar is readily in Asian markets and some large American grocery stores.  If unavailable a simple mix of red wine vinegar and Balsamic vinegar is a reasonable substitute.
  2. Use either breast or thigh meat.

 

 

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