Recipe: Real Deal, Sichuan-Style Kung Pao Chicken

Posted on July 10, 2014 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.

You guys!!! I just bought tickets to a place I have been aching with ALL MY SOUL to visit for the longest time! And it's for FUN, not work, another landmark! Can you guess where?!? Hint: I made this kelp noodle salad with ponzu miso vinaigrette to celebrate.
Had such a blast lecturing @USCAnnenberg, speaking on the importance of social media and Instagram for building your brand as a multimedia food reporter. Here I'm chatting about getting up close and personal with your dish using @olloclip's wide angle lens for your iPhone, and going over some basic rules of composition and lighting. So inspired by these students, and can't wait to come back next semester! #USCAnnenberg #USCfeedia
One of my favorite parts of living in an international city like LA is that you can totally travel through your tastebuds. Case in point: all the amazing sandwiches from around the globe that I rounded up today on the site. From Venezuelan arepas to Israeli laffas and Danish smorebrod it's all here! Check out the link in my profile and prepare to have your tummy a-growlin.
Hang tight Oscar noms, there's carbs around the corner! Everyone's a winner with this BONKERS good gilded baked potato loaded with caviar, creme fraiche, and chives by @ChefWolfgangPuck for tonight's Governor's Ball. #oscars2015 #oscarswithwolfgang
Just like in cinema, the classics never get old. Loving this push pop filled with strawberries and luscious white cake by @ChefWolfgangPuck @theacademy Ocscar's party! 🍰👌#oscars2015
Wishing you all a very prosperous New Year! I for one am hoping I'm lucky enough to stuff my face with more of these incredible, crackly bottomed shen jian bao dumplings from Shanghai. And I f you wanna take a digital trip to the streets of China to celebrate, check out the vid in my profile!
These delightful sweets have me daydreaming of the day I'll get to see @pierreherme @raffleshotels. I'll visit you and your incredible pastries soon, mon ami Paris! 💋✈️🇫🇷
In honor of Mardi Gras, I've rounded up a few of my favorite bites in New Orleans on my site. Is it really any surprise that Cafe Du Monde's dreamy beignets and cafe au lait made the cut? Check out the link in my profile for my faves, and happy Fat Tuesday! (📷 @amateurgourmet)
Still stressin on V-Day prezzies? Why not MAKE your sweet pea a bouquet at the awesome new DIY flower bar Fleurish? So fun and so much more personal. They do a full on florist tutorial and walk you thru arranging your own personalized bouquet -- like Color Me Mine for flowers! This is the Winter Solstice arrangement with lisianthus, olive branches, white roses, tulips and silver berzelia berries. It's a great girls' day activity too. My mom and I had a blast! I 💜this place! #dstexture
Honey glaze and pecans atop the fluffiest, lightest cloud of raised dough. @RepubliqueLA, you always rock my world. I'm not even a donut person -- they usually make my tummy feel really icky -- but this one was DIVINE. (@letmeeatcake you MUST try this!) 🍩👌
Played out though it may be, I just 💙💛💜 me some @bottegalouie macarons. What are your fave flavors? #TL_EatList
If you're curious about how to make the latest trend in clean eating -- bone broth -- head on over to the link in my profile. It's no wonder grannies across the globe have been feeding this stuff to their ailing kids for ages! I've put together a modern take using a pressure cooker, plus bone marrow (!!!), neck, and oxtail which takes under 2 hrs instead of days. Check it out! Links in profile.
Pasture raised ribeye, farm eggs, and a whole ton of locally grown spinach with a side of a BEAUTIFUL Costa Rican coffee selected by the @CupOfExcellence. If you care about where your food comes from like I do, you should care about your coffee too, and the Cup Of Excellence organization makes sure that the farmers get paid and you get the absolute best beans on the market.  83% of the funds go directly back to the farmers, and the rest is returned to origin. It's quite the delicious win win!
I'd argue that @sugarfishbynozawa is some of the best takeout in LA. Even if the rice might not be at the pitch perfect temp that it is dining in by the time you get home, it sure as heck beats supermarket sushi. "Trust me."
Morning score at Goodwill. Went to donate clothes, then fell in love with this rad Italian tin. Giving is a great thing!
Looking for the best places in Phoenix and Scottsdale to eat for the #SuperBowl this weekend? My list of the best bites is up at the link in my profile. This here's @pavlemilic of @fnbrestaurant, an absolute MUST if you're into exploring local Sonoran produce, grains and wines!
I'm out like this carpet. So long PDX and PNW. It's been real. You and your ridiculous teal floors will be greatly missed. #oregontrufflefestival
Well, that's one way to make new friends at the dinner table. Some just guy busted out a giant Tupperware FULL of white Alba truffles last night. Well played, sir. Well played. #oregontrufflefestival
Amazing Oregon white truffles foraged underneath the Douglas Fir forest. The bounty of the Pacific Northwest never ceases to amaze me.
Morning forage. #OregonTruffleFestival #TLPicks

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>