Aug 27

Kung Pao Chicken


Kung Pow Chicken



Here I go again, diving into Asian cuisine with gusto. I spent the better half of the weekend making a long list of food to make from all over the world … and yet, here I find myself returning to the food I know how to do best. I had some pretty grand ideas and some pretty amazing food on that list … French classics, Italian favourites and British fare. I had made the list to push myself into new challenges. I feel I must be able to accomplish the basics before I can safely move on to other more advanced recipes, so I had made mental preparations in my head to play around with scotch eggs, boeuf Bourguignon, French macarons and homemade ravioli. Yet, these past few days I have been churning out the Asian stuff. I made garlic roti and curry on Sunday, yesterday I made Bak Kut Teh, and now today, this classic of Chinese restaurant dishes, the Kung Pao Chicken.


Kung Pao (also spelled Gong Bao in some places) chicken is a spicy dish originating from the Szechuan province of China … hence, the spice. Traditionally, this dish is loaded with chillies and Szechuan peppers, but restaurants the world over have adapted the recipe to a milder version, in an effort to not kill their clientele. My sister lives in Shanghai and during one visit she took the whole family out for some authentic Szechuan dinner. The food was really good and smelled great … but I could barely eat any of it as I felt my taste buds practically melt off the surface of my tongue. Chillies and me don’t mix very well, unfortunately.



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Kung Pao chicken has a nice fragrance to the dish, coming from the use of garlic, ginger, shallots, Shaoxing wine and a drizzle of sesame oil. I believe the version I am cooking today will be considered the Westernized version, since I am not using any Szechuan peppercorns. But I am using quite a generous amount of dried chillies. It is highly advisable that you use chicken thigh fillets for a juicier end product.



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Kung Pao Chicken with Cashew Nuts.


4 – 6 chicken thigh fillets, diced

3 cloves garlic

3 shallots

½ inch fresh ginger

8 dried chillies

½ tsp white pepper

2 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine

2 tbsp light soy

1 tbsp Hoisin sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

150 mls chicken stock (low salt)

2 tsp cornstarch (made into slurry)

30 g unsalted cashew nuts

sugar to taste

spring onions, to garnish

coriander, to garnish



So, not too many things on the ingredient list I hope … but it is what it is. Start off by putting shallots, ginger and garlic into a food processor and finely chop everything.


Next, dice the chicken and place the pieces into a mixing bowl along with light soy, sesame oil, white pepper and some of the chopped aromatics. Cover with cling film and chill for about 2 hours.



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After 2 hours, time to start cooking. Heat oil in a wok or sautee pan on high. Add the chicken in batches to brown. Keep them moving and don’t crowd the pan, otherwise you will boil rather than pan-fry the meat. The meat should be about 75% cooked … then removed and set aside.


In the same pan sautee the rest of the chopped garlic, ginger, shallots and dried chillies (don’t burn them!). After about 5 mins, deglaze the pan with the Shaoxing wine and low sodium chicken stock; scrape the bottom of the pan. Then add in all the sauces + sugar and allow the sauce to reduce by half.


Return chicken pieces to the pan and coat with the sauce. Taste to see if you are happy with the seasoning and the balance of flavours ~ adjust accordingly.


Pour in the cornstarch slurry and allow the sauce to thicken to the desired consistency. If it gets too gloopey, just add another splash of chicken stock. Just before serving, drizzle a little extra sesame oil and sprinkle in the whole cashews … I like my cashews untoasted prior to adding into the pan.


Garnish with chopped spring onions and sprigs of coriander.



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The boyfriend was well pleased with the results, although I think I did go slightly overboard with the number of chillies I used. However, it was scrumptious and there is none left. It’s a good one dish meal especially if you are only cooking for two. If you are looking for a good side dish to go with this, then I suggest you keep it fairly simple like a broccolini stirfry with chopped garlic, or baby gai lan. If you like spicy dishes and are looking for more ideas, check out Ma Po Tofu and Hot & Sour Chinese Soup.


Well, that’s all from me today folks. Do try this recipe out and see if you like it, then let me know your thoughts in the comments box below. In the meantime I think I shall review my food list and focus on making something other than Asian food for the blog. Any suggestions? Meh … I’ll see what inspires me in the next couple of days. So stay tuned, people!



~ Enjoy! ~


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