Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chinese - Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken
I am not a big fan of Chinese food...well not the traditional American Chinese take-away which seems to take 30 seconds to make and doesn't capture the flavors which you can experience in Hong Kong (as Hong Kong food is closer than other traditional Chinese flavors to American Chinese take-away).  However, my husband is a BIG fan of Chinese food and would eat it every week.  So the compromise was for me to find some traditional Chinese food which I could make at home relatively easily and which we would both like to eat.

I found both of these things in Easy Chinese Recipes by Bee Yinn Low.  This recipe for Kung Pao Chicken is adapted from the recipe in this book, which also contains wonderful recipes for dim sum of which I need to try out.  If you have never eaten dim sum, I encourage you to try it out for a brunch some Saturday or Sunday morning as it is quick and delicious bite sized food in a variety of flavors.

Kung Pao Chicken comes from the Sichuan area of China.  It is known for food which is spicy which can be tempered by rice if you so desire.  I didn't eat Kung Pao Chicken when I was in China, but I had some other Sichuan food which was spicy and filling.  This recipe serves two with only 8oz of chicken.  I like to double the chicken as it is so tender I don't want to stop eating it.  However, this does not reheat very well as the peanuts become chewy and the onions wilted.  Note: I use an electric wok to cook with as the temperature is much higher than using the stove regardless of whether it is electric or gas.  The wok heats up quickly and efficiently and everything cooks much better than on the stove top.

Kung Pao Chicken
16 oz. Chicken, boneless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
2 teaspoons sherry
3 tablespoons cornstarch (really I make sure that the chicken has been covered lightly)
4 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons sichuan peppercorn oil (made from soaking sichuan peppercorns in oil)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
About 2 inches of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
30 dried chiles
peanuts (raw or slightly baked to make more crunchy)
2-3 green onions, cut into 1-2 inch pieces

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
pepper (white is better, but I use black when I don't have white on hand)
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch

(Be sure you have put the rice on before beginning to stir fry the chicken.)  Tenderize chicken before beginning, if you desire.  Marinate the chicken with sherry (or rice wine) and cornstarch for about 10 minutes.  Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.  Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a wok and stir fry the chicken until they are half-cooked.  Remove from wok and set aside.  Heat remaining peanut oil and peppercorn oil.  Add garlic and ginger, stirring quickly.  Add the chiles until you smell the spicy aroma of the chile peppers (don't breathe in too much!)  Return chicken to the wok and stir with spatula.  Add the sauce and stir until chicken is well coated.  Stir in peanuts and green onions until everything is well combined.  Serve immediately with rice.  Serves 2-4 large portions.

Breville Hot Wok, BEW600XL - stainless (Google Affiliate Ad)
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