The Guizhou version uses skin-on chicken fillets and fermented chili paste. Western versions are sweet and hardly spicy. This recipe which uses skin-on chicken fillets and includes chili paste in the sauce more closely resembles Guizhou kung pao chicken.
This dish has three components: the chicken, the vegetables and peanuts, and the sauce. And there are three main steps in cooking kung pao chicken.
The first step is marinating chicken fillets in soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic and starch. Mix everything well together in a bowl. The chicken needs about ten minutes to soak up the flavors. Use that time to cut your vegetables for the stir fry and to mix the sauce.
Heat oil in a frying pan or wok and spread the chicken fillets in the hot oil. Do this over medium heat and remember to flip the chicken pieces over for even cooking. Don’t expect the chicken to turn crisp. This isn’t fried chicken. This is a stir fry.
Scoop out the chicken and set aside. Pour off the oil leaving only enough to stir fry the vegetables in. Reheat the oil and stir fry scallions and bell peppers. Add peanuts and stir fry a little longer.
Pour in the sauce and allow to boil to reduce and thicken. Take your chicken, add to the sauce, vegetables and peanuts, and stir fry until the sauce coats every inch of the chicken pieces.
Kung Pao chicken
- 500 grams chicken thigh fillets skin-on, cut into two-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- ½ teaspoon grated garlic
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon chili paste
To stir fry
- cooking oil
- 3 stalks scallions thinly sliced and divided into white/light green and dark green portions
- 1 bell pepper deseeded and diced
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts
- Place the chicken cubes in a bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade, mix well and set aside for ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce.
- In a wok heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of one-half inch.
- Spread the marinated chicken in the hot oil and cook over medium heat, turning the over a few times, until cooked through, about seven minutes.
- Scoop out the chicken and set aside.
- Pour off the oil leaving only two tablespoonfuls.
- Stir fry the white/light green portion of the scallions with the bell peppers for about half a minute.
- Add the peanuts and cook, stirring often, until heated through.
- Pour in the sauce and cook for about a minute until slightly reduced and thickened.
- Throw the chicken back into the wok and continue stir frying until every piece of chicken is coated with sauce.
- Tip the contents of the wok into a shallow bowl and sprinkle your kung pao chicken with the dark green portion of the scallions before serving.