Kung Pao chicken is a spicy Chinese stir-fry made with bite-sized chicken, peanuts, vegetables and chili peppers. Although authentic Kung Pao derives its distinctive flavor from the use of Sichuan peppercorns, this classic Szechuan dish has been heavily adapted over the years to accommodate western tastes and availability of ingredients. In my version, I add zucchini, water chestnuts and bell peppers for a delicious medley of texture. Give it a try tonight, this popular Chinese takeout is easier to make at home than you think.
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 pounds chicken thigh meat , cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup Chicken broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon chili oil
- 3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
- 8 to 10 dried Chinese chili peppers
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 2 cloves garlic , peeled and minced
- 1 thumb-size ginger , peeled and minced
- 1 medium zucchini , cut lengthwise into half and sliced into 1/4-inch thick
- 1 (8 ounces) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 1/2 small red bell pepper , seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 small green bell pepper , seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients: egg white, soy sauce , rice wine, oil, cornstarch and salt. Whisk together until well-blended. Add chicken and stir to fully coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. In a colander, drain chicken.
In another bowl, combine sauce ingredients: chicken broth, soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, brown sugar and cornstarch. Whisk together until well-blended. Set aside.
In a wide skillet or wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat bottom. Heat oil until smoking. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add peanuts and cook, tossing regularly, for about 30 seconds or until lightly browned. Add zucchini and chestnuts and cook, tossing regularly, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until tender yet crisp. Add bell peppers and cook for another 1 minute. Transfer onto a plate and keep warm.
Wipe down wok as needed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Heat oil until almost smoking. Add chili peppers and cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 to 20 seconds or until peppers begin to blacken and oil is slightly fragrant. Add chicken and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Transfer onto a plate and keep warm.
In the wok, add sauce ingredients (whisk again to disperse cornstarch which may have settled in the bottom) and bring to a boil. Add chicken and vegetable mixture. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through and sauce is thickened. Serve hot.