Monday, November 22, 2010

Kung Pao Chicken

One of the dishes that I ordered more than once in Beijing was Kung Pao chicken. This dish is a schezuan staple. While the meal above was tasty, it wasn't as spicy as I had hoped it would be and I ended up drowning it in chili oil. Apparently, I've built up quite the tolerance over the last couple of years. Make sure you use unsalted peanuts or the dish will be ruined and control the heat using more or less chilies.

Kung Pao Chicken
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups peanut oil
6 dried red chilies
1½ cups unsalted peanuts
6 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1/3 cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
5 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese black rice vinegar.

1. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, egg whites, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Mix well.

2. Place a large wok over high heat until hot. Add peanut oil. When oil is very hot, remove wok from heat and immediately add chicken pieces, stirring to keep them from sticking. When the pieces are white on all sides, after 2 to 3 minutes, drain them and all the oil through a stainless-steel colander in a heatproof bowl. Reserve 5 tablespoons of the oil, and discard remainder.

3. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/3 cup water; mix well and set aside. Reheat wok with reserved oil. When very hot, add chilies and stir-fry until slightly blackened. Add peanuts, garlic, scallions and ginger, and stir-fry until lightly browned.

4. Add chicken pieces, stock, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Mix well, and stir in cornstarch mixture. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low and let mixture sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix again, and serve.