Kung Pao chicken,also transcribed as Gong Bao or Kung Po, is a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken and cashew nuts or peanuts. I have tasted it in many restaurants, and in many instances , it had been served without vegetables but in a thick sauce with cashew nuts and tons of dried chillies !!It is said ,that this classic dish is a Szechuan cuisine which originated in the Sichuan Province of central-western China and includes Sichuan peppercorns. The Szechuan peppercorns (actually not a pepper but the berries from the prickly ash tree) add a wonderful fragrance and a lemony, tingly pepper tang to the dish .Unfortunately, it is not easily available here , if you can obtain it ,than by all means pound a few coarsely, and add them to your dish .Although the dish is found throughout China, there are regional variations that are typically less spicy than the Sichuan serving.
4 chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp cornflour
10-15 dried chillies
6 to 7 garlic,peeled and sliced
2 large Bombay onions –(cut into 6 parts)
9 slices of young ginger
20 cashew nuts,lightly fried
2 stalks spring onions, cut into segments,(separate the bottom and top)
Salt to taste
Combine in a bowl : Sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (optional)
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp corn flour mix with 2 tbsp water
Combine chicken,oyster sauce and cornflour in a bowl and set aside for 15mins.
Heat oil in a wok, fry the dried chillies for a minute.Throw in the garlic,ginger and onions(separate the onions by layers before adding ) and the bottom parts of the spring onions. You can increase the heat at this stage.Give a few stirs as fast as you can.There is no need to wait the onions to be softened, after a minute ,add in the marinated chicken and fry .Ensure that each piece of the chicken are not sticking to each other.Lower the heat at this stage.Pour in the combined sauce and stir fry.Do not add water.The dish must not be too wet. Cook until the sauce thicken.The sugar in the sauce will caramelise and gives a darker colour to the dish.Finalise by adding chopped spring onions and fried cashew nuts.Adjust seasoning. Close fire and serve immediately.
Note: You can increase or decrease the amount of the sauces used according to personal preferences.
There is another method , whereby egg white is beaten until stiff, and the chicken is left marinated with the sauce mix.The chicken is than added once the onions,garlic and ginger had soften.You can try this method as well.
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