Quick & Easy Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken AKA Kung Po Chicken is a sweet, spicy, savoury stir fry that fizzes with Szechuan pepper that takes just 15 minutes to cook!

Portrait close up image of kung pao chicken served with rice and shredded spring onions on a white plate

Quick Chinese Fakeaway Recipes.

I have something of a reputation for producing the occasional Chinese or Indian takeaway recipe. This gloriously tasty meat feast is just the latest!

Kung Pao chicken is heady with Szechuan peppercorns and my version uses dried chilli flakes rather than larger chunks of dried chilli.

I personally find them much more convenient and pleasing to eat in a quick stir fry!

If you have never tried Szechuan pepper before you are in for a treat. It has the most wonderful fizz, I think of it as grown-up popping candy.

Be careful though, use too much and you will get a number tongue!

This recipe is a quick spicy treat that is, in flavour terms, relatively similar to dan dan noodles, General Tso’s Chicken or my ginger pork stir fry.

Significantly it is ready in less than 30 minutes and 15 of that is leisurely prep!

Close up portrait image of stir fried chicken with cashew nut and spring onions

Kung Pao Chicken Hints and Tips.

Kung Pao often translated as Gong Bao and Kung Po chicken, I have even seen it written phonetically as Kung Pow Chicken which makes me smile.

They are, however, all the same dish and the secret to cooking it well is all in the preparation.

My video shows you exactly how I make this recipe and the order of the prep.

  1. Begin by cutting the chicken and putting it in the marinade.
  2. Prep the spring onion, garlic and ginger.
  3. Toast and grind the Szechuan Pepper.
  4. Toast the Cashew Nuts.
  5. Then go for frying!

It is vitally important when stir frying any recipe that you wok is searingly hot.

As you can see and hear in my video there will be lots of sizzle and lots of steam.

If you do not have this then you are braising, not stir frying!

Portrait image of kung pao chicken served with rice and shredded spring onions on a white pate with red chopsticks

Ingredient Substitutions and Advice.

There are a couple of ingredients that may not be in everyday use if you do not cook Chinese food often.

Here are some substitutions that can be made, the best sub will be first and it will tumble down from there:

Shaoxing Wine: Gin, Dry Sherry, Mirin, Sake

Chinkiang Vinegar: 50/50 mix balsamic & red wine vinegar but use half as much as this recipe calls for.

I also deviate from the more traditional peanuts in favour of cashew nuts, feel free to move back. But I think that cashews enhance the sweetness of any kung pao chicken recipe.

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Kung pao or kung po chicken is a gloriously quick and spicy Chinese stir fry recipe that features cashew nuts chilli and Szechuan pepper.

Ingredients

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 75 g Cashew Nuts
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 35 g Ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 1/2 Tbsp Szechuan Peppercorns
  • 2 Salad Onions
  • 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil

For the Marinade

  • 1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Cornflour
  • 1 Tbsp Cold Water

For the Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Cornflour
  • 1 Tsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Chiangking Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 1 Tsp Sesame Oil

Instructions

  1. Slice the chicken in half lengthways and then into 5mm thick strips diagonally across the breast.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade and add the chicken, then allow to site whilst the remaining ingredients are prepared
  3. Finely slice the garlic as finely as you can.
  4. Cut the ginger into batons as thinly as you can manage.
  5. Finely slice one of the spring onions into 2mm thick rings and shred the other as thinly as you can.
  6. Place the shredded spring onion in a bowl of cold water.
  7. Toast off the Szechuan peppercorns in a hot wok for 2 minutes.
  8. Crush the Szechuan pepper in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
  9. Mix together the ingredients for the sauce.
  10. Mix together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  11. Toast off the cashew nuts in a hot wok and set aside.
  12. Get the wok almost smoking on a high heat and add the oil.
  13. Immediately add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 30 seconds.
  14. Add the chicken and marinade followed by the chilli flakes and Szechuan pepper and stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
  15. Pour in the sauce followed by the sliced spring onions and cashew nuts.
  16. Stir fry for a final two minutes.
  17. Drain the shredded spring onions and serve on top of the stir fry.

Notes

I usually serve kung pao chicken with some simply boiled jasmine rice.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 673 Total Fat: 39g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 30g Cholesterol: 102mg Sodium: 1220mg Carbohydrates: 38g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 16g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 46g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

25 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. I haven’t heard of shaoxing wine before! I love when I find a new ingredient! This looks amazing and the colors are incredible. <3

    Reply
    • Really, it is a very well know Chinese cooking ingredient, have fun it is a great addition to a Chinese pantry!

      Reply
  2. This is such a delicious recipe, and the perfect meal for a Saturday night at home. Loving the vegetables, and the flavours to compliment. Ideal that the dish doesn’t take long to make.

    Reply
  3. I adore Kung Pao Chicken and yours looks incredible. I love that it only takes 30 minutes to make too!

    Reply
  4. You know, I now keep dark soy sauce in the house in addition to regular because of you (and use it quite a bit when making fakeaway). Can you recommend a good substitute for Shaoxing wine? How often do you use it? We’ve liked the other takeaway recipes of yours we’ve tried, and so this one will likely happen at some point.

    Reply
    • I love to hear stuff like this, I use Shaoxing wine in quite a lot of recipes and it has a decent shelf life although you can substitute for other rice wines the most commonly recommended substitute is dry sherry, although I personally think that the flavour of gin is much and prefer to use that as a substitute when required.

      Reply
  5. As a new yorker, i cannot imagine being that far away from chinese or pizza!! King pao chicken is a STAPLE in our house but we almost never make it ourselves. Bookmarking this one, for sure.

    Reply
    • Pizza is a lot closer but the nearest Chinese is a long way away and the nearest good Chinese is probably a 320km round trip from home ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      Reply
  6. I need to find that Shaoxing wine, I see you use it a lot! This looks so delicious, I hardly cook Chinese, but have been craving it and want to try some simple, yummy recipes. This looks perfect!

    Reply
    • Thanks Whitney, Shaoxing wine is a type of rice wine and it should be readily available in good oriental markets, however there are substitutes you can use, the most common recommended one is dry sherry although I find the taste very different and if I am out would usually use gin which I think has a much closer flavour profile to rice wine than sherry does.

      Reply

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