Kung Pao Chicken
adapted from Serious Eats
For the chicken:
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon black soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the stir fry:
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 cup (4 ounces) dry roasted peanuts
- 2/3 cup dried Chinese red or arbol chiles, heads cut off, left whole
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 large bell peppers, any color, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 2 scallions, chopped
For chicken: Combine chicken, salt, pepper, black soy sauce, wine, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes.
For sauce: Combine black soy sauce, wine, vinegar, water, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
For stir fry: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok (or large deep skillet) over high heat. Fry the peanuts in the hot oil for about 30 seconds, until golden brown; scoop out and set aside. In the same oil, fry the dried chiles for about 1 minute until crispy; remove and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the chicken, spread into a single layer, and cook without moving until browned, about 4 minutes. Continue cooking, tossing and stirring frequently, until chicken us almost completely cooked, 1-2 minutes longer. Remove and set aside.
Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for a few seconds, then add the bell pepper and celery and continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.
Add the sauce and cook until thickened, another minute. Add the chicken, peanuts, and chiles back to the pan and stir fry until everything is coated. Add the scallions, stir fry for only a few seconds, then turn off the heat.
Serve over white or brown jasmine rice with crushed chile flakes, if desired.
Oh you guys. I’ve had kung pao chicken on my “to make” list for so long and now I am kicking myself for not getting to it sooner. This is more like American takeout style kung pao chicken – no szechuan peppercorns here – but unlike American-style takeout, it is huge in flavor, light on grease. Absolutely delicious.