Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁) in Chinese is a stir-fried dish with chicken cubes, dried chili pepper and deep-fried peanuts. The tender taste of the chicken matches great with the crispy peanuts with a combined sweet, sour and spicy taste.
Background of the dish
The name of Kung Pao comes from a court official Ding Baozhen in Qing dynasty. The hero official Ding is a foodie who especially loves stir-fried diced chicken. During the time of being served as governor in Sichuan province, he frequently treats his guest with this dish and add dried chili peppers because People in Sichuan loves to eat hot chili. Later on, he is granted the title Taizi Shaobao also known as Kung Pao, which means the protector of the crown price. People name this dish after him to memory him.In China, chefs usually use chicken thighs to make this dish rather than boneless chicken breasts. The meat of thighs is tenderer but requires more about the cutting skills.
I made this world wide famous Kung Pao chicken every month. I know that it is all loved Chinese food by people around the world. The aroma bought by the combination of chili pepper flakes and Sichuan peppercorn is so fragrant. Kung Pao series dish is considered as one of the most popular one in Sichuan cuisine. Besides chicken, we also have Kung Pao Shrimp (Kung Pao Prawn), Kung Pao tofu and my own creation: kong pao cauliflower etc.
- About the sauce, the amount of cornstarch used in the mixed stir fry sauce (碗芡) can be slightly different based on the very single dish. For example, in this kung pao chicken, only a small amount is enough since the chicken cubes is coated with starch in the marinating process. In other veggie kung pao dishes, more cornstarch is needed to make the sauce thicker and consequently can attach to the main ingredients.
- Key step of this dish is to be quick and accurate. Transfer the chicken cubes to the edges of the wok (no heat part) until they begins to change color to get the tenderest chicken meat. And be quick after adding the stir frying sauce.
- 1 chicken leg (or 2 chicken thighs), cut into small cubes
- ½ cup of fried peanuts (or salt baked ones)
- 2 leek onion (only white part), cut into small section.
- 6~8 dried chili peppers (change the amount according how hot you wish it to be)
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorn ( or you can use Sichuan peppercorn powder )
- 4 tablespoon cooking oil
- pinch of salt
- a small pinch of salt
- 2 tsp. dark soy sauce (for coloring)
- 1 tbsp.cooking wine
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- a small pinch of salt (around 1/3 tsp.)
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp.cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoon sugar
If you use chicken thigh: remove the bones by cutting a break on the top and then push the meat off with the help of a sharp knife.
Cut the meat into long strips and further into one bite cubes.
Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and marinating with salt, soy sauce, cooking wine and cornstarch. This helps to add a basic taste and create a protecting shell for the chicken so we can produce the tenderest chicken.
Then cut the leek onion into 1cm sections, slice ginger and garlic.
Heat up oil in wok until hot, pour in cold oil and then heat until warm. Place the chicken cubes in and let them stay for 3-5 seconds until the starch begins gelatinization. Gently fry until all of the chicken cubes begin to change color.
Transfer the chicken cubes to the edges of the wok and empty the center. Add Sichuan peppercorn and dried chili pepper, fry until aromatic. Place in garlic, ginger and half of the scallion sections. Quickly fry to mix well.
Stir the sauce and pour in.
Fry until the sauce is well coated. Mix with the remaining leek onion white sections and fried peanuts. Transfer out immediately.
You will get the tenderest Kung Pao chicken.
Other hot Sichuan dishes
Kung Pao Chicken
One of the most famous Sichuan dish–kung pao chicken, made with chicken breast.
chicken, Kung Pao
, or 2 chicken thighs, remove the skin and cut into small cubes
, you may use roasted peanuts and skip step 3 and step 4
, only white part, cut into small section.
~8 dried chili peppers
, change the amount according how hot you wish it to be
whole Sichuan peppercorn
, or you can use Sichuan peppercorn powder
dark soy sauce
light soy sauce
a small pinch of salt
chopped green onion
, finely chopped
- Prepare a small bowl; add all the seasonings for the sauce together.
- If you use chicken thigh: remove the bones by cutting a break on the top and then push the meat off with the help of a sharp knife.
- Cut the meat into long strips and further into one bite size cubes. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and marinating with salt, soy sauce, water, cooking wine and cornstarch.
- Heat up oil in wok until hot, pour in cold oil and then heat until warm. Place the chicken cubes in and let them stay for 3-5 seconds until the starch begins gelatinization. Gently fry until all of the chicken cubes begin to change color.
- Transfer the chicken cubes to the edges of the wok and empty the center. Add Sichuan peppercorn and dried chili pepper, fry until aromatic. Place in garlic, ginger and half of the scallion sections. Quickly fry to mix well.
- Add the remaining onion sections and pour the sauce in (pre-stir the sauce just before using). At last mix in fried peanuts. Transfer out immediately as long as everything is well combined.
If you are using Sichuan peppercorn powder, add it along with the deep-fried peanuts.
When frying the Sichuan peppercorn, use slow fire and be patient. Over-fried Sichuan peppercorn brings a bitter taste.
Kung Pao Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 432
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 48g
Saturated Fat 6g
Total Carbohydrates 34g
Dietary Fiber 8g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.