I do love a good, spicy kung pao chicken. This recipe is quite spicy but you can, of course, adjust the amount of chillies. The dried chillies are added to flavour the chicken, and although they are of course edible, they aren’t meant to be consumed.
VELVETING THE CHICKEN (OPTIONAL)
This is a technique that gets the chicken super tender and delicious. To do it, add one large egg to the marinade and whisk it in. Coat the chicken and let it marinate for about 30 minutes. Bring about 2 litres (8 cups) of water to a boil and when boiling rapidly, add the chicken and boil it for 1 minute or until white on the exterior but still quite raw. This can be done in the same wok you are cooking the rest of the recipe in. Strain and allow to cool and then carry on with the recipe.
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Kung Pao Chicken
- 750 g 1lb 10oz chicken breasts or thighs, skinned and cut into 2.5cm (1in) pieces
- 3 tbsp rapeseed, canola oil
- 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 3 spring onions, scallions finely chopped
- 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 12-15 Chinese or dried red finger chillies, cut in half and seeds removed
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 1 large handful of roasted peanuts, lightly crushed
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 spring onions, scallions, thinly sliced, to garnish
- dried chilli flakes, to garnish (optional)
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine, Shaoxing or dry sherry
- 11/2 tsp cornflour, cornstarch
- 70 ml 1/4 cup unsalted chicken stock or water
- 70 ml 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tsp cornflour, cornstarch
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients together until
- creamy smooth and then stir in the chicken pieces, ensuring that the chicken is nicely coated with the marinade. Set aside while you prepare the sauce or leave for up to 12 hours if more convenient.
- Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a jug or bowl and set aside. When ready to cook, heat a large wok or frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high–high heat. Your wok is hot enough when a drop of water evaporates immediately on contact. Swirl in the oil and, when visibly hot, add the marinated chicken and fry, stirring regularly until the exterior is white and the chicken is about 80% cooked through. Transfer the par- cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.
- If your chicken released a lot of water, pour it out and wipe your wok clean. Add a little more oil if you need to. When the oil is visibly hot, stir in the chopped garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions) and fry, stirring continuously for about a minute.
- Add the Szechuan peppercorns and dried chillies and give it all a good stir, and then add the diced (bell) peppers and the par-cooked chicken. Fry for another couple of minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the peppers are cooked but still fresh looking.
- Stir in the lightly crushed, roasted peanuts and drizzle with the sesame oil. To serve, divide between four bowls and garnish with the sliced spring onions and dried chilli flakes, if using. This is good on its own or served over white rice.
Curry Guy One Pot by Dan Toombs (Quadrille, £27), Photography © Kris Kirkham