Top | Quick and Easy Chinese

Kung Pao Chicken

(recipe, Nancie McDermott)

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This wildly popular dish has a longer ingredients list than many of the recipes in this book, but this is mostly a matter of measuring out the two seasoning mixtures. Once that’s done, there’s a bit of chopping, and then you’re ready to cook up a speedy and spectacular dish. To prepare in advance, chop the chicken, stir up the marinade, and mix it with the meat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for several hours or as long as overnight. Then mix the sauce, gather the remaining ingredients, and cook. Classic recipes include Szechuan peppercorns, but if you don’t have them, it’s still a delicious dish.


    1. ¾ lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
    2. 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
    3. 1 Tbsp. dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
    4. 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
    5. 1 tsp. vegetable oil
    1. 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
    2. 1 Tbsp. dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
    3. 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar or Chenkiang vinegar
    4. 1 Tbsp. sugar
    5. 1 tsp. cornstarch
    6. 1 tsp. salt
    1. 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    2. 5 to 10 small dried hot red chiles, or 2 teaspoons red-pepper flakes
    3. 1 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and crushed (optional)
    4. 1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic
    5. 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
    6. ¼ cup coarsely chopped green onion
    7. ¾ cup roasted, salted peanuts
    8. 1 tsp. sesame oil


    1. Prep the chicken: Chop the chicken into bite-sized chunks, about 1 inch in diameter. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, and vegetable oil. Stir to mix everything well, and then add the chicken, tossing to coat it evenly. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
    2. Make the sauce and seasonings: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir to dissolve the dry ingredients, and mix everything together well.
    3. Prepare the remaining ingredients, and place everything by the stove, along with a serving platter for the finished dish.
    4. Cook the chicken: Heat a wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, then add the vegetable oil. Swirl to coat the pan, and when it is hot but not smoking, add the chiles. Toss well for about 30 seconds, then add the Szechuan peppercorns, if using. Cook for about 1 minute until fragrant and shiny, tossing once or twice.
    5. Scatter in the chicken and let it cook on one side for about a minute. Toss well, then add the garlic, ginger, and green onion. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then, until the chicken has changed color and is cooked through.
    6. Stir the sauce, and add it to the pan. Cook another minute, tossing often, and then add the peanuts and sesame oil. Toss once more, transfer to a serving platter, and serve hot or warm.