Kung Pao Chicken

Kung pao chicken (宫爆鸡丁 or gōngbào jīdīng) is a dish that originated from the Sichuan province in China. It’s one of the dishes that you can actually find in China and in the US. Of course not all places make it well. I think what prompted me to find a recipe was getting a particularly awful version of it at a Chinese restaurant near campus… which is incidentally the only Chinese restaurant in the area.

I got this recipe from Allrecipes.com but made some adjustments. My version had chicken, carrots, celery, water chestnuts and peanuts. I love water chestnuts. They’re crunchy and have no natural flavor, so they just soak up the flavor of the sauce. But I have a friend who calls them “weird crunchy things”. Needless to say, I really like them and this recipe is way better than what a lot of restaurants make.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablesoons of water
1 tablespoon hot chili paste
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (8 ounce) can whole water chestnuts, quartered
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Marinate chicken with 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mix. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

Make sauce by combining 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mix, chili paste, vinegar, and sugar.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan. When hot, saute garlic and onions. Add celery and carrots and cook until soft. Add water chestnuts and peanuts. Once cooked, set aside.

In the pan, heat more oil and cook chicken. When the chicken is cooked through, add vegetables back in. Add sauce and cook until sauce thickens.

Serve with white rice.


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