Authentic Kung Pao Chicken | 宮保雞丁

by Yi on September 9, 2013 · 38 comments

Post image for Authentic Kung Pao Chicken | 宮保雞丁

Today let’s get back to what this site is all really about – sharing authentic Chinese recipes.

Kung Pao Chicken or Gong Bao Ji Ding | 宮保雞丁 in Mandarin Chinese is classic Chinese dish originally from Sichuan province. Nowadays, Kung Pao Chicken is one of the most well known dishes served in many Chinese restaurants ranging from takeout restaurants to authentic Sichuan restaurants

Today, I am going to share the authentic Sichuan (Szechuan) Kung Pao Chicken recipe with you. Depending on where you are from, the Sichuan version might look very different from what you are used to. However I can tell you that if you enjoy a good stir-fry you’ll most likely enjoy this dish.

Just to give you an idea, compared to the Westernized recipe, the Sichuan version doesn’t use all the vegetables such as baby corn and water chestnuts. As a matter of fact, there is any vegetable involved. I use some bell pepper to make the images a little more photogenic.  Additionally, you’ll find this version less sweet and on the spicier side.

I am also going to use a classic Chinese cooking technique called “running the oil” – blanching the meat (sometimes vegetables) in oil for a short amount of time in order to seal the surface of the meat so the meat stays juicy. I am doing this for the sake of being authentic but you can certainly skip it.

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

A little side note, this dish is traditionally made on wok however I’ve done my with my new 12-piece t-fal cookware. I used one of pots to fry the peanuts and pre-cook the chicken. All turned out nicely. Then I used the 10″ sauté pan to handle the stir-fry. The dish came out perfectly!

If you are interested in finding out how you can still win a 12-piece T-fal cookware, please check out my CookingPlanit and T-fal giveaway.

Step by Step Illustration

Combine the chicken cubes with chicken marinade ingredients. Mix well and let marinate sit for at least 20 minutes

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

Fill a medium pot with 2 to 3 cups of cooking oil. Add dry peanuts to the oil and fry for about 6 minutes over low heat or until crispy. Remove and drain

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

In the same pot, add marinated chicken cubes and let them run through the oil over medium heat. About 2 minutes. Remove immediately when the meat turns firm. Alternatively, you can just pre-fry the chicken in 3 tbsp of oil until the chicken cubes turn white

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the dry chilies and roast until they are about to turn dark

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

Add minced ginger and chopped scallion white parts. Stir fry for about 30 sec

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

Turn up the heat to high, add the bell pepper and stir fry for about 1 minute (bell pepper is optional)

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

Add chicken cubes. Continue to stir fry over high heat for another minute

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and corn starch. Toss and stir to mix

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

Toss in the crispy peanuts and the hot chili oil. Transfer to a serving plate

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

As usual, you can’t go wrong serving a stir-fried dish with a side of (fried) rice :)

Additional, you can substitute the chicken with other kinds of protein to create your own Kung Pao Shrimp, Kung Pao Pork, or even Kung Pao Tofu!!

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless chicken cutlet
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup dry skinless peanuts
  • 1 bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch squares (optional)
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 scallion white part only, chopped
  • 5 - 8 whole dry chilies peppers, cut to 1 inch long
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp regular soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp black vinegar
  • 1 tbsp hot chili oil
  • For Chicken Marinade
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cooking wine
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the chicken cubes with chicken marinade ingredients. Mix well and let marinate sit for at least 20 minutes
  2. Fill a medium pot with 2 to 3 cups of cooking oil. Add dry peanuts to the oil and fry for about 6 minutes over low heat or until crispy. Remove and drain
  3. In the same pot, add marinated chicken cubes and let them run through the oil over medium heat. About 2 minutes. Remove immediately when the meat turns firm. Alternatively, you can just pre-fry the chicken in 3 tbsp of oil until the chicken cubes turn white
  4. Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the dry chilies and roast until they are about to turn dark
  5. Add minced ginger and chopped scallion white parts. Stir fry for about 30 sec
  6. Turn up the heat to high, add the bell pepper and stir fry for about 1 minute (bell pepper is optional)
  7. Add chicken cubes. Continue to stir fry over high heat for another minute
  8. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and corn starch. Toss and stir to mix
  9. Toss in the crispy peanuts and the hot chili oil. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with a side of (fried) rice
http://yireservation.com/recipes/kung-pao-chicken/

authentic Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

As I mentioned a little earlier, I am currently working with CookingPlanit to give away a brand new set of T-fal cookware. Check out my giveaway now as it will end soon!! If you have missed my giveaway, you might still be able to catch the same giveaway from my fellow bloggers. See the complete schedule below:

The Cooking Planit and T-fal 2013 Giveaway
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8/31/13 9/6/13 Ancestral Chef Bite Sized Blog
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One more shot from my new outdoor bistro table :)

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny March 25, 2014 at 11:07 am

I thought the whole Szechuan pepper corn is one of the important ingredients in this dish.

Reply

2 Yi March 25, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Hi Jenny, thanks for visiting! Actually for this dish, this Sichuan peppercorn is not always required. The additional peppercorn will give it a nice numbing taste cut it’s also fine not to use it. It really comes down to personal preference. Hope this answers your questions. Thanks!

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3 Ian November 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Authentic KongBao chicken does not have red peppers. It *does* have green onions, and garlic. This is based on eating it many times in Sichuan province, and from the recipes of Chinese friends from that province.

Reply

4 Yi November 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Hi Ian,
Thank you for the feedback. Good call on the bell pepper part. I added the pepper for aesthetic reason. I have made a note on my post to make this clear. As for the use of garlic, I suppose it’s a regional thing. As you might know no two restaurants cook their dish quite the same way. I have been taught the version without garlic but I’ll cook it with the garlic next time to see the difference. Lastly how can I forget to use green onion! It’s actually in the recipe but under the name scallion :)
Thanks again for your comment. Since you’ve been to Sichuan I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the other recipes on this blog!

Reply

5 Laura @ The Rookie Cook September 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm

This looks so yummy – I’m sure the hubby would love it. Pinned!

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6 Yi September 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Thanks Laura!

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7 Rafi September 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Regarding Kung Pao Chicken. Yes it’s a good dish but actually quite difficult to make! I have found that the way you cut the chicken has an effect on the absorption of sauce. Furthermore, if the chicken pieces are too large, and they seem to blow up in stir frying, then they are not coated with much sauce.
Chicken breast is really a canvas to paint on. So if the chicken is too large, there is not much sauce and the taste is rather like plain chicken.

The approach that I have taken has been to cut the pieces perpendicular to the grain, and actually make then rather small. I then double the quantity of sauce since the thinner slices such up the sauce. I have never tried the ‘running the oil’ trick but my method of making KPC has been very successful.
Regarding peanuts, up till now, I have used roasted nuts w/o salt. I put these in at the last second, get them coated with sauce and turn off the flame. If they sit too long they get soggy. I look forward to the ‘running the oil’ trick, but again, up till now it’s worked very well.
I would be interesting in hearing if others have noticed a similar issue.

Reply

8 Rafi September 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Regarding Kung Pao Chicken. Yes it’s a good dish but actually quite difficult to make! I have found that the way you cut the chicken has an effect on the absorption of sauce. Furthermore, if the chicken pieces are too large, and they seem to blow up in stir frying, then they are not coated with much sauce. Chicken breast is really a canvas to paint on. So if the chicken is too large, there is not much sauce and the taste is rather like plain chicken.
The approach that I have taken has been to cut the pieces perpendicular to the grain, and actually make then rather small. I then double the quantity of sauce since the thinner slices such up the sauce. I have never tried the ‘running the oil’ trick but my method of making KPC has been very successful.
Regarding peanuts, up till now, I have used roasted nuts w/o salt. I put these in at the last second, get them coated with sauce and turn off the flame. If they sit too long they get soggy. I look forward to the ‘running the oil’ trick, but again, up till now it’s worked very well.

Reply

9 Yi September 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Hi Rafi, I really appreciate for your feedback. I cut the chicken against the grain to produce a tender and soft texture but I’ll take a note on the absorption issue. It definitely makes sense to cut the chicken smaller so each piece can get coated with more sauce. I’ll try that next time. I agree on the timing of adding the peanuts but I pre-fry first so the peanuts can stay crispy a little longer. Please let me know how you like it once you try “running the oil” try. Thanks again for your visit!!

Reply

10 Nami | Just One Cookbook September 16, 2013 at 11:50 pm

I love kung pao chicken and yours look delicious Yi! I’ve tried a different recipes at home, and I’m going to try yours next!

Reply

11 Yi September 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Thanks for stopping by Nami!

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12 shuhan September 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Looks completely delicious yi! And so glad you’ve made a stand for authentic kung pao chicken! So many of those takeouts are covered in overly sweet gloopy mess; when real chinese stirfries are actually really healthy! Yum! Good one x

Reply

13 Teresa Reichek September 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Black vinegar? I have never heard of this. What makes it black? I assume I can find this in the ethnic foods section of my supermarket along wkith soy sauce and fish sauce, etc?

Reply

14 Yi September 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Hi Teresa,

Thanks for checking out the recipe. Black vinegar is also known as Chinese vinegar. Here is a little more info for you.
If you can’t find it in your local store, you can also find it online or use regular vinegar. Hope this helps.

Reply

15 Sissi September 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm

What a lusious-looking dish! I love the oil blanching method. It must make chicken breast extremely tender. I still remember when I made chicken kung pao for the first time. It was so different from anything called by the same name in European restaurants… (mine called for Sichuan pepper though and no bell pepper: only chicken and chili; I loved it with peanuts but now keep on making with my beloved cashew nuts).

Reply

16 Juliana September 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Yum! Nothing like home cooked classic…looks delicious Yi…now I just need a big bowl of rice to go with it.
Hope you are having a great week :D

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17 Yi September 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

Thanks Juliana. It’s great to see you!

Reply

18 Vivienne September 11, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Now I know why the chinese restaurants manage to keep their proteins so juicy and soft vs when I make at home!

Over here, people tend to use cashew nuts for their Kung Pao chicken!

Glad you’re back and posting delicious authentic Chinese again :)

Reply

19 Yi September 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

Great to see you Viv! The cashew nut version sounds great. I’ll try that out next time.

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20 Carolyn Jung September 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Once again, home-cooking triumphs over restaurant fare. Kung Pao gets so gloppy at some many establishments. I love how yours is not like that at all, but lets the ingredients really shine on their own.

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21 Yi September 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Hi Carolyn, I can’t agree more with you on the home-cooking triumphs part. Thanks for the compliment.

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22 Julie Goetz September 11, 2013 at 11:18 am

I saved this in my recipe box. Kung Pao Chicken is one of my favorite take out dishes. I prefer it on the spicier side so this might just be perfect.

Reply

23 Yi September 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Hi Julie, thanks for your visit. Try increasing the amount of chili oil – it’ll make it really spicy.

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24 Rafi September 11, 2013 at 5:11 am

How do you say: “Running the Oil” in Chinese? I am trying to learn more about this technique.

Reply

25 Yi September 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Hi Rafi,in Mandarin Chinese “running the oil” is called guo you or 过油.

Reply

26 Bam's Kitchen September 11, 2013 at 3:04 am

Kung Pao chicken is a delicious and quick meal for my hungry boys and they like it spicy so will have to double up on the chili oil. Happy Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival a little early to you! Are you planning anything special? Take Care, BAM

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27 Yi September 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Hi Bam, thanks for stopping by. I am still deciding what to cook for the mid-autumn festival. Hopefully I’ll come up with something!

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28 Abbe@This is How I Cook September 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm

My husband loves this and I do make it for him. I’ve always run the oil but never knew the reason why; the cookbooks I used just said to do it! Thanks for telling me because now it makes total sense!

Reply

29 Yi September 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm

We all learn everyday :) Thanks for your visit Abbe.

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30 tigerfish September 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm

I was just about to say how authentic this is as you have the 过油 step often used in restaurants but hard to do at home most times. :)

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31 Yi September 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Hi tigerfish, thanks for your comment. Yes I agree that “running the oil” is not a common technique used for home cooking. However I just would like to introduce this technique to others who are not familiar with it. Of course I rarely do this at home when I need to stir fry something:)

Reply

32 Cookie Yi September 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I LOVE Kung Pao Chicken! Can’t wait to try this recipe especially since we share the same name! :)

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33 Yi September 10, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Hello Yi, it’s my pleasure to meet you! Please let me know how it came out!

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34 john@kitchenriffs September 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Great dish! Although I enjoy the Americanized version, this looks much, much better. Some interesting cooking techniques, too. Good stuff – thanks.

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35 Yi September 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Thanks John. It’s always nice to hear about your comment. I actually like the Americanized version as well although I have to ask for extra spicy :)

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36 Angie@Angie's Recipes September 10, 2013 at 2:58 am

One of my favourite Szechuan dishes!

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37 Yi September 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm

thanks Angie. It’s nice to see you!

Reply

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