How To Make Kung Pao Chicken

How To Make Kung Pao Chicken

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When Friday night rolls around and the Chinese restaurant menu beckons, consider making a takeout staple at home instead. In fact, kung pao chicken is so easy to make that you may be able to prepare it yourself before the delivery guy can even arrive at your door.

Usually sweetly redolent in a gloopy sauce at the restaurant, making a homestyle kung pao chicken produces a nuanced set of hot-and-sour flavors from the combination of chili sauce, black rice vinegar, garlic and ginger. Add a handful of peanuts and a scoop of sliced water chestnuts for crunch and you have a filling meal that’s delicious when served over rice.

What’s more, the kung pao preparation is really versatile. Once you perfect this version with chicken, you can pair the sauce with your favorite combinations of seafood, pork and vegetables.

Here’s how to make kung pao chicken, step-by-step. The detailed tutorial with pictures and directions is at the bottom of the page.

Your turn! What tips can you share from your family’s recipe? Want to ask a question before you start cooking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!


Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Makes: 6 Servings | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

10 ounces chicken breast
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup water chestnuts, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons oil
1 pound baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted peanuts
1 green onion
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese black rice vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock

Directions

1. Cut the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of the cornstarch. Toss lightly and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

2. Heat a pan over high heat and add 1 teaspoon of the oil. Stir fry the spinach, salt, 2 teaspoons of the garlic and 2 teaspoons of the rice wine, turning constantly, until the spinach becomes limp. Remove the spinach from the pan and arrange in a circle on a platter.

3. Dry fry the peanuts in the pan over medium heat until lightly browned.

4. Reheat the pan over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir fry the chicken until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the pan, drain and wipe out the pan.

5. Reheat the pan over high heat and add the remaining oil. Stir fry the green onion, ginger, remaining garlic and the chili sauce for 10 seconds. Add the sliced water chestnuts and stir fry for 15 seconds. Combine the sugar, black vinegar, chicken stock and the remaining soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and cornstarch. Add this mixture to the sauce and simmer until thickened.

6. Add the cooked chicken and the peanuts. Toss lightly to coat with the sauce. Transfer to the center of the platter and serve immediately.


Step-By-Step Tutorial

Start by gathering your ingredients. The important items for this recipe are chicken breast, baby spinach, chicken stock, unsalted peanuts and sliced water chestnuts. Note that I’m using cooked chicken breast here as part of my Weeknight Magic: 1 Chicken, 5 Delicious Dinners meal plan, but you will generally use raw meat.

Cut the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of the cornstarch. Toss lightly and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Heat a pan over high heat and add 1 teaspoon of the oil. Stir fry the spinach, salt, 2 teaspoons of the garlic and 2 teaspoons of the rice wine, turning constantly, until the spinach becomes limp.

Remove the spinach from the pan and arrange in a circle on a platter.

Dry fry the peanuts in the pan over medium heat until lightly browned.

Reheat the pan over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir fry the chicken until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the pan, drain and wipe out the pan.

Reheat the pan over high heat and add the remaining oil. Stir fry the green onion, ginger, remaining garlic and the chili sauce for 10 seconds.

Add the sliced water chestnuts and stir fry for 15 seconds. Combine the sugar, black vinegar, chicken stock and the remaining soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and cornstarch. Add this mixture to the sauce and simmer until thickened.

Add the cooked chicken and the peanuts. Toss lightly to coat with the sauce.

Transfer to the center of the platter and serve immediately.

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