Recipe: Real Deal, Sichuan-Style Kung Pao Chicken

Posted by & filed under food, travel.

IMG_6203

I just got back from my first trip to China with my brother/videographer Danny Simmons, and I can’t wait to share some videos from the cooking classes I took, along with the story on regional Chinese cooking I’m writing for Quest Magazine.

While we put those how-to videos together, I thought I’d tide you over with a recipe for kung pao chicken.

I learned to make this traditional Sichuan dish at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, along with another local staple, mapo tofu. The kung pao we made couldn’t have been more different than its sad takeout stepsister in the States. The bright, ginger-studded version we made was much less goopy, with a delightful crunch from fresh peanuts and fried chills.

Here’s a recipe for how it’s done.

Ingredients:

2 boneless chicken breasts, with or without skin (about 2/3 pound total)

3 cloves of garlic and an equivalent amount of fresh ginger

5 scallions, white parts only

2 tablespoons peanut oil

a generous handful of dried red chiles (at least 10), preferably Sichuanese

1 teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper

2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

 

For the marinade:

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry

1 1/2 teaspoons potato flour or 2 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

For the sauce:

3 teaspoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon potato flour or 1 1/8 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

3 teaspoons Chinkiang or black Chinese vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon chicken stock or water

Method:

1. Cut the chicken as evenly as possible into 1/2-inch strips and then cut these into small cubes. Place in a small bowl and mix in the marinade ingredients.

2. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger, and chop the scallions into chunks as long as their diameter (to match the chicken cubes). Snip the chiles in half or into 2-inch sections. Wearing rubber gloves, discard as many seeds as possible.

3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl — if you dip your finger in, you can taste the sweet-sour base of the gong bao flavor.

4. Season the wok, then add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat over a high flame. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until they are crisp and the oil is spicy and fragrant. Take care not to burn the spices (you can remove the wok from the heat if necessary to prevent overheating).

5. Quickly add the chicken and fry over a high flame, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and continue to stir-fry for a few minutes until they are fragrant and the meat is cooked through (test one of the larger pieces to make sure).

6. Give the sauce a stir and add it to the wok, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir them in, and serve.

Spot on chilaquiles for brunch this morning with @letmeeatcake @joshgoldman2 at @brilliantshine. The stunning rancho-style patio is perfect for day drinking & evening cocktailing in SaMo. And the food is darn good too! Can't wait to go back for dinner.
Repost from @ilanhall @knifefightesq. Miss out on any of the scrumptious eats from this week's four-way Mexican standoff? Catch up on the latest episode of #KnifeFight RIGHT NOW at esquiretv.com/now. #esquirenetwork #instagood #instamood #instago #instamood #knife #igers #bestoftheday #photooftheday #picoftheday #chef #kitchen #instadaily #follow #me #followme #like
@zoenathanloeb's amazing @huckcafe was one of the first pieces I wrote on food in LA, and my excitement for her work hasn't tapered one bit with the release of her incredible Huckleberry cookbook. Find an interview with Zoe + a recipe for bacon cheddar muffins at the link in my profile! Bonus: the cookbook was shot by the fabulous @mattarmendariz. Match made in pastry heaven? I think so!
Ooh lala! Creamy avocado dip (w silken tofu for protein) and creole sweet tater fries. Recipe in my profile. It's one of my fave #vegan #vegetarian #eatclean dishes!
Tune in tonight to see two LA faves @BizarraCapital and Chichen Itza throw down in a battle of calves' liver and cactus on @knifefightesq! Bring on the nopales!
I picked some pink peppercorns in a vineyard, and then  @sonyamasinovsky made 'em look all painterly and purdylike in this gorgeous wooden bowl. Can't wait to show you what we made with them!
Shakshouka in a skillet: it's what Saturday mornings are made for.
Celebrating the harvest with the team from @Tastemade. No filter needed in wine country this time of year. It's just too gorgeous as is!
Spanish tuna nicoise on top,  chicken cobb on the bottom, and a Hot Lei (coconut water, pineapple, lemon, honey, cayenne) to finish. Boom!
Bento and I bid you a very restful holiday weekend.
Maple glazed heirloom carrots and radishes for a late lunch here at Casita de Krista. Now, time for yoga!
Totally in love with @MatteisTavern Asian-inspired grilled avocado with fresh wasabi and ponzu. Perfect for Labor Day Weekend #grilling! Recipe link in my profile.
My #CurrentObsession: the wacky and whimsical food "vehicles" @Barton_G_LA...and the redonkulously good churros with Chinese 5 spice hot cocoa that come in them! Link to story in my profile.
#LunchAlDesko: kale salad with seared bison, Saint Agur blue, raisins, radishes, and red grapes. Finished with @jacobsensaltco for good measure:-) Cc @bonappetitmag.
Happy #NationalDogDay to the most regal Shiba in all the land and my bestest of friends, Mr. Bento Beans.
Behold, the coffee cake of your dreams @republiqueLA -- moist and fluffy as can be, topped with ripe CA figs and *just* the right crumble. Thanks for saving me a slice, @letmeeatcake!
As far as Monday evenings go, this is pretttttty good. Really enjoying @zoenathanloeb's @huckcafe cookbook and quality time with Bento. Polka dot pages FTW!
Flat white and a macchiato @handlebarcoffee with @mkretovics before heading home. Ahhh, why must weekends END? 🍷☕️🌿💃☀️
Morning run through the vineyards, the smell of ripe grapes and wet earth in the air. Harvest really is the best time of the year! Great way to kick off @melissamachat's bday weekend in Santa Inez!
Raise a glass to the end of summer with this lovely rhubarb, fennel, and blood orange cocktail. It's the best way to beat the heat, and can be prebatched for your Labor Day shenanigans. Recipe on my blog, link in my profile!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>