Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
5 Tbsp white wine or chicken broth, divided
5 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
2 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch, divided
2 Tbsp water, divided
1 Tbsp chili garlic paste
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
6 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups vegetables, chopped
1 small can water chestnuts
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
chopped peanuts, for garnish
In a large zip top bag, combine 2 Tbsp wine or chicken broth, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved with 1 Tbsp water.
Add chicken. Toss to coat. Marinate in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
Meanwhile make the sauce. Mix together 3 Tbsp wine or chicken broth, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water, chili paste, vinegar, and brown sugar. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the marinated chicken. Brown the chicken for 4-5 minutes, or until it is cooked. Remove from pan, cover with foil to keep it warm.
Reduce the heat to medium high heat. Add vegetable oil to the pan. Mix in veggies and cook for 4-5 minutes, until crisp tender. Mix in garlic and water chestnuts. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add chicken back to the pan. Pour sauce over the chicken. Mix and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
Serve immediately over rice topped with green onions and chopped peanuts

here are some popular questions and their answers related to Kung Pao Chicken:

  1. What is Kung Pao Chicken?
    • Kung Pao Chicken is a classic Chinese dish made with tender chicken pieces, vegetables, and peanuts in a spicy and tangy sauce.
  2. Is Kung Pao Chicken spicy?
    • Yes, Kung Pao Chicken typically has a spicy flavor profile due to ingredients like chili garlic paste and rice wine vinegar. However, you can adjust the level of spiciness to your preference by modifying the amount of chili paste used.
  3. Can I use other types of meat instead of chicken?
    • While chicken is traditional for Kung Pao Chicken, you can also use other proteins like shrimp, beef, or tofu to make variations of the dish.
  4. What vegetables can I use in Kung Pao Chicken?
    • Common vegetables used in Kung Pao Chicken include bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, and snap peas. You can customize the vegetables based on your preferences.
  5. How do I make the sauce for Kung Pao Chicken?
    • The sauce for Kung Pao Chicken is made with a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, chili garlic paste, and cornstarch dissolved in water. These ingredients are mixed together to create a flavorful and slightly thick sauce.
  6. Can I make Kung Pao Chicken ahead of time?
    • While Kung Pao Chicken is best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the components ahead of time and assemble them when ready to serve. Keep the cooked chicken and sauce separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  7. What is the best way to serve Kung Pao Chicken?
    • Kung Pao Chicken is typically served hot over steamed rice, garnished with chopped green onions and peanuts for added texture and flavor.
  8. Is Kung Pao Chicken gluten-free?
    • Traditional Kung Pao Chicken contains soy sauce, which may not be gluten-free. However, you can use tamari or a gluten-free soy sauce alternative to make the dish gluten-free.
  9. How can I make Kung Pao Chicken less spicy?
    • To make Kung Pao Chicken less spicy, you can reduce the amount of chili garlic paste or omit it altogether. You can also add more brown sugar or honey to balance out the heat.
  10. Can I use pre-made Kung Pao sauce instead of making it from scratch?
    • Yes, you can use store-bought Kung Pao sauce if you’re short on time or prefer convenience. Just make sure to adjust the seasoning and consistency according to your taste.

These are just a few commonly asked questions about Kung Pao Chicken, and hopefully, they provide some helpful insights into making this delicious dish!

Here are some secrets to achieve the perfect Kung Pao Chicken:

  1. Marinate the Chicken: Marinate the chicken pieces in a mixture of wine or chicken broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch before cooking. This helps tenderize the chicken and infuses it with flavor.
  2. Use High Heat: When stir-frying the chicken, vegetables, and sauce, use high heat to create that characteristic wok hei, or “breath of the wok.” High heat ensures that the ingredients cook quickly while maintaining their texture and flavor.
  3. Prep Ingredients in Advance: Kung Pao Chicken cooks quickly once you start, so it’s essential to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Chop vegetables, measure out sauces, and have your chicken marinated beforehand.
  4. Balance Flavors: Kung Pao Chicken is known for its balance of flavors—spicy, sweet, salty, and tangy. Adjust the proportions of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili paste to achieve the perfect balance for your taste preferences.
  5. Add Aromatics: Garlic and ginger are essential aromatics in Kung Pao Chicken. Use freshly minced garlic and ginger for the best flavor. Add them to the pan just before adding the chicken to prevent burning.
  6. Choose the Right Peppers: Traditionally, Kung Pao Chicken includes dried red chilies for heat and flavor. Adjust the number of chilies based on your spice tolerance, and consider removing the seeds for less heat.
  7. Add Crunch: For textural contrast, add peanuts or cashews to your Kung Pao Chicken. Toast them lightly before adding them to the dish to enhance their flavor and crunchiness.
  8. Thicken the Sauce: To achieve a glossy and slightly thickened sauce, mix cornstarch with water and add it to the sauce towards the end of cooking. This helps bind the sauce and gives it a beautiful sheen.
  9. Use Fresh Ingredients: Whenever possible, use fresh vegetables and high-quality chicken for the best flavor and texture in your Kung Pao Chicken.
  10. Garnish with Green Onions: Finely chopped green onions add freshness and color to the finished dish. Sprinkle them over the top just before serving for a vibrant presentation.
  11. Cook in Batches: If your pan is too crowded, the ingredients will steam rather than stir-fry. Cook the chicken and vegetables in batches if necessary to ensure they cook evenly and develop a nice sear.
  12. Finish with Sesame Seeds: Toasted sesame seeds add a nutty flavor and attractive appearance to Kung Pao Chicken. Sprinkle them over the dish just before serving.
  13. Adjust Seasoning at the End: Taste the dish before serving and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You may need to add a bit more soy sauce, vinegar, or sugar to achieve the perfect balance of flavors.
  14. Let Rest Before Serving: Allow the cooked Kung Pao Chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld and ensures that the chicken remains juicy.
  15. Serve Hot: Kung Pao Chicken is best enjoyed immediately while it’s hot and fresh. Serve it over steamed rice or noodles for a satisfying meal.

With these secrets in mind, you’ll be able to create a delicious and authentic Kung Pao Chicken that rivals your favorite Chinese takeout!