Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a classic Chinese dish from the Szechuan region however it has long become a classic staple of the Westernised take away and this is my version!

Landscape image of two bowls of kung pao chicken in Asian style bowls featuring a blue flower.

My Kung Pao Chicken Recipe.

Regular readers will know that I love a good ‘fakeaway’. As a result, the appearance of a Chinese kung pao chicken recipe should come as no surprise!

Whilst I am fairly keen on playing with my recipes I think that this Kung Pao Chicken stays pretty close to its roots.

It is heady with Szechuan peppercorns and plenty of dried chili flakes but lets face it what would I know… I’ve never been to China.

One thing I do know is that it is very tasty and a dish that I know will always put a smile on my wifes face.

It is a quick spicy hot treat that is, in flavour terms, relatively similar to dan dan noodles or my ginger pork stir fry.

Significantly it is ready in less than 30 minutes!

Portrait image of a bowl of kung pao chicken in Asian style bowl featuring a blue flower.

What is Kung Pao Chicken?

Apparently, the name of this dish hails after the Governer of the Szechuan state in China.

It is often translated as Gong Bao Chicken and Kung Po chicken but they are all the same dish.

It all seems very complicated but it is far from it.

We are talking about a very quick chicken stir fry recipe.

Just like my black bean chicken stir fry or Thai chicken stir fry the secret of success is all in the preparation.

Traditionally peanuts and leeks would be the core ingredients joining chicken.

My version omits the leeks and swaps out peanuts for cashew nuts. It adds a delightful creaminess to the recipe.

One of the reasons I love Chinese ‘Fakeaways’ is the speed, once you get going 10-15 minutes later you have a wonderfully tasty bowl of food.

Square close up image of a bowl of kung pao chicken in Asian style bowl featuring a blue flower.

How to a Cook a Chinese Fakeaway at Home.

There is no real secret in cooking this fantastic recipe at home.

All of the tools and techniques are pretty well trodden for a home cook.

As with all stir fry recipes you should ensure that all of your ingredients are prepared before you begin.

The short marinade of the chicken breast for this recipe is a technique called ‘velveting’.

It is one that is common to Chinese cuisine and adds a velvety texture to meat. As with most times I use this technique I do not use egg white, I do not find it necessary personally.

Other than that it is just a case of getting going with the wok and so long as you ensure that your wok is always hot… And I mean really hot you should be good to go!

Tall close up image of a bowl of kung pao chicken in Asian style bowl featuring a blue flower.
Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

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

Kung Pao Chicken is an all time favourite Chinese recipe from the Szechuan region. It has become a classic staple of the Westernised Chinese take away menu! 

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Cornflour
  • 1 Tbsp Cold Water
  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 75 g Cashew Nuts
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 35 g Ginger
  • 1 Tsp Dried Chili Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Szechuan Peppercorns
  • 2 Salad Onions
  • 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil

For the Sauce

  • 1 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 length ways and then into 5mm strips diagonally across the breast.
  2. Finely slice the garlic and spring onions.
  3. Cut the ginger into thin batons.
  4. Mix together 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine, 1 tbsp water and 1 1/2 tsp of cornflour to form a quick marinade and add in the sliced chicken whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Toast off your cashew nuts in a dry wok and set aside.
  6. Mix together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  7. Ensure you have all of your ingredients prepared before you start cooking as we are gonna go pretty fast now.
  8. Heat the flavourless cooking oil in a very hot wok until just before it begins to smoke.
  9. Add in the Szechuan pepper, chili flakes, garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute.
  10. Then add in your chicken along with the marinade and stir fry for 4-5 minutes.
  11. Add in most of the salad onions but keep some green bits back for garnish.
  12. The pour in the sauce it will thicken and go silky very quickly.
  13. Finally add in your cashew nuts and cook until the chicken is cooked through, this should take no longer than another couple of minutes.

Notes

Serve with plain white rice.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 651 Total Fat: 39g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 30g Cholesterol: 103mg Sodium: 1229mg Carbohydrates: 32g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 11g Protein: 46g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

28 thoughts on “Kung Pao Chicken”

  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

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

  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.

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

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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 😮

  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!

    • 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.

  7. I’m so jealous of your garden Brian 🙂 There’s nothing that compares to the taste of a fresh vegetable, right from your backyard! I’ll be totally honest and tell you I don’t eat a ton of Chinese food, but it’s because I’ve never really known how to cook it. The fact that your recipe is so easy to make might spur me in that direction for an easy weeknight meal!

    • I’ll be wishing the garden was a great deal smaller in a few weeks time but for now I can’t wait to get back at it. Chinese food is really simple to cook and the trick is have EVERYTHING prepared before you even heat up the wok, once you get going things happen very quickly and if you ‘mither’ it can often screw up the dish, so prepare everything in bowls and place them in the order you throw them in the wok and off you go. Once you get it right once there will be no looking back.

  8. Oh I miss having asparagus in my garden! I am like you and am ready for spring vegetables to make its way to the stands. This Kung Pao looks delish and I love your photos!

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