I had Kung Pao chicken for the first time at Panda Express and it became one of my favourites ever since. Well marinated chicken deep fried, sauteed with spicy red chillies, onions,bell peppers,ginger-garlic, green onions(you may add your own choice of vegetables) in a tangy, spicy, creamy, delectable dark brown sauce! Doesn't this sound great? Oh the very thought of it makes me drool.
My love for Kung pao led me to research more into it and came upon this info in Wikipedia which I would like to share here. Kung pao is a classic dish of Schezwan cuisine, that originated in Sichuan province of central-western China. The name Kung Pao was derived from the title Gong Bao, which was the title of Ding Baozhen, the late governor of Sichuan province. The dish was named after him.
In the original Sichuan version diced chicken is marinated and stir fried with chillies, Sichuan peppercorns, vegetables and roasted peanuts. Shaoxing wine was used for an extra flavour in the marinade. The most important component was the Sichuan peppercorns that imparted the unique authentic flavour to the dish.
However in Westernized versions which most of us have tried out, marinated chicken is mixed with corn starch, deep fried and then later stir fried with ginger garlic, vegetables, roasted peanuts in a sauce prepared with rice vinegar, oyster sauce, chili peppers etc. Compared to the Sichuan version this doesn't use Sichuan peppercorns as it was illegal to import these peppercorns into US. Though the ban is now lifted, this resulted in Westernized version of the dish.
Every time I have Kung Pao chicken from the restaurant I try to figure out the ingredients that went into the preparation but couldn't completely figure it out until I accidentally came upon Vahreh Vah's Kung Pao Chicken. I have made changes to the chef's recipe and created my version. Instead of deep frying the marinated chicken I opted for stir fry as it would make it a lot more healthier. Also I added teriyaki sauce while stir frying chicken to add more flavour and to give more glaze.And even though I couldn't exactly create a clone of Panda Express Kung Pao I was very well satisfied with the final outcome. This goes well with fried rice/steamed rice. Now for the moment lets enjoy this spicy Kung Pao!
Boneless chicken diced - 1.25 lb
3/4 white onion chopped to squares
Green bell pepper - 1 chopped
Celery stalk - 1 chopped
Green onions - 4 chopped
Snow peas - 15 chopped
Mushrooms - 5 oz(140 g) sliced
Dry red chillies - 4 broken
Fresh ginger minced - 1 tbsp
Fresh garlic minced - 3 cloves
Ground pepper to taste
Salt to taste
A pinch of MSG( I used 1/2 packet fried rice seasoning mix)
Roasted peanuts - A handful or more
Cornstarch(cornflour) - 2 tsp dissolved in enough water
Sesame oil for cooking
For marinating chicken:
Soy sauce - 1.5 tbsp
Egg - 1 beaten
Salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Cornstarch(cornflour) - 2 tbsp(approx)
For preparing the sauce:
Chicken broth - 1 3/4 cup
Soy sauce - 3 tbsp(approx)
Rice Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Oyster sauce - 1 tbsp
Chilly sauce - 1/2 tbsp(adjust according to your taste buds)
Pinch of sugar
For stir frying chicken:
Teriyaki sauce(gives the required glaze)
- Marinate the chicken with ingredients mentioned under marinade. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat a large pan over high heat, add 1 tsp sesame oil and stir fry the marinated chicken until it turns golden brown. During this process add teriyaki sauce over the chicken pieces and continue sauteeing.
- Reduce heat to medium-high and continue the process till chicken is cooked well. You may go for deep frying instead of stir fry method.
- When the chicken is fully cooked remove from pan and keep aside.
- For preparing the sauce add soy sauce to broth till the colour turns dark brown. Now add the rest of the ingredients mentioned above for sauce preparation. Keep aside.
- Heat the same pan used for cooking chicken, add sesame oil and stir fry broken red chillies till they turn dark brown.
- Add minced ginger and garlic and saute till raw smell goes.
- Add chopped onions along with snow peas and cook till onions turn transparent.
- Add mushrooms, bell pepper, celery, half of chopped green onions and stir fry till mushrooms are cooked and water is absorbed.
- Add enough salt and pepper to taste, seasoning mix(or MSG) and mix well.
- Add the prepared sauce and bring to a boil.
- Add stir fried chicken, reduce the heat and cook for few minutes more.
- Add roasted peanuts and mix well.
- Add about 1.5 tsp cornflour solution slowly till the sauce attains the required thickness. Do not add too much. It would spoil the entire dish. If the gravy isn't thick enough you may add more.
- Remove from heat and garnish with the remaining chopped green onions.
- Serve hot with fried rice/steamed rice.
- Enjoy every bite of crunchy, tangy, spicy Kung pao!
This goes to:
Other Chinese Dishes: