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Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe - Somerset Foodie Gong Bao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken - sometimes called Gong Boa - is a really simple stir fry recipe that's full of rich umami flavours spiked with the holy trinity of Chinese ingredients - chilli, ginger and garlic - seasoned with mouth-tingling Sichuan pepper and soy sauce. It's a classic for good reason - dark, sticky, sweet and sour and really tasty, quick and easy to make.

The key to a good Kung Pao lies in the amount of chilli you use and the Sichuan pepper which seems to have a dumbing down effect on the chilli. You could use scary amounts of chilli that would normally make a dish way too hot to be enjoyable, but the addition of the Sichuan pepper, somehow tames the heat and they work brilliantly in tandem.

You will see some recipes that leave the Sichuan peppercorns whole, this gives you intense bursts of flavour when you come across one every so often. My preference is to grind the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar to get the flavour to distribute more evenly.

You'll need a few other Chinese larder staples, Shaoxing rice wine is pretty important as is Chinkiang vinegar, a black rice vinegar with wonderful complex flavours.

The basic premise of this dish is to marinade your chicken for 15-20 minutes in soy, Shaoxing rice wine with a little potato flour to thicken. Meanwhile, mix together a separate sauce which you will add in to the stir fry towards the end. Toast the peanuts, slice and chop the chilies, garlic, ginger and spring onions and you're ready to start.

I serve this dish with some fairly plain white rice, I quite like stir-frying Japanese short grain or sushi type rice with some bok choy or spinach leaves. You can also add ginger or 3 or 4 finely diced shiitake mushrooms that have been soaked for 20 minutes in boiling water. Just remember that when stir-frying any rice, it's best to use cooked rice that's been chilled first or better still, day old rice from the fridge. If you stir-fry just cooked, hot rice you'll always end up with a sticky mess.

Unless you have a massive wok, it's always hard to make a stir-fry for more than 4 people, you end up 'stir-steaming' everything, rather than frying. So best to limit the numbers - or cook in batches - when making this dish.

Ingredients for Kung Pao Chicken
Serves 4
600g Chicken Breasts, cut into small chunks
For the marinade
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon potato flour
For the sauce
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang rice vinegar
1 teaspoon potato flour
1 tablespoon water

Other ingredients

1 bunch of spring onions, cut into large pieces
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 large thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns
100g blanched peanuts, roasted
3 Arbol Chillies, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Fussels cold pressed rapeseed oil

Japanese Short Grain Sushi Rice

1. Start by dicing up the chicken, then sprinkle with the potato flour, mix through the chicken to create an even coating, then add in the soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine. Set to one side for 20-30 minutes.

2. Toast the peanuts under the grill. Keep an eye on them as they can burn quite easily.

3. In a bowl, mix up the sauce ingredients and keep to one side.

4. Peel and chop the ginger, garlic and spring onions.

5. Remove the stalks and seeds from the dried chillies and slice them thinly.

6. Heat your wok, add the Sichuan peppercorns and toast for 10-15 seconds, making sure you don't burn them. Remove them to a pestle and mortar and grind. You don't need to create a powder, just a coarse grind is fine.

7. With the wok back on the heat, add the rapeseed oil and heat. Stir-fry the dried chillies for a few seconds, add in the Sichuan peppercorns that have been ground, a fry for a few more seconds. Then add the diced chicken and stir-fry.

8. Once the chicken has just begun to brown, add in the garlic, ginger and spring onions and keep cooking. The pan will be smelling amazing at this point.

9. Once the chicken is almost cooked, give your sauce a stir and add that to the wok. Keep cooking until the sauce has thickened then add the peanuts, stir them through and serve with rice.

Enjoy! And foodies don't forget to leave a review here on our blog if you cook this at home. If you're an instagram user we'd really appreciate a tag too! @somerset.foodie - many thanks! Ben 

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