This Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is made with bell pepper, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanuts and dried chilies.
Welcome to our culinary journey into the tantalizing world of Kung Pao Chicken! Originating from the Sichuan province of China, this beloved dish has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts worldwide. Kung Pao Chicken is a flavorful and spicy stir-fry that combines tender pieces of chicken, crunchy peanuts, vibrant vegetables, and a tantalizing sauce. With its perfect balance of savory, tangy, and spicy flavors, Kung Pao Chicken is a true culinary delight. Let's dive into the world of Kung Pao Chicken!
The sauce used in Kung Pao Chicken is a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, and other seasonings. It is often flavored with garlic, ginger, and spicy elements like dried red chili peppers or chili flakes. The sauce brings together the flavors of the dish, providing a balance of savory, tangy, and spicy notes.
Kung Pao Chicken is known for its versatility, as it can be adjusted to suit different spice preferences and dietary needs. It can be served with steamed rice or noodles, making it a satisfying and flavorful meal option.
- What is Kung Pao Chicken?
- Why you will love this Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
- Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Ingredients
- How to make Kung Pao Chicken
- What to serve with Kung Pao Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Variations
- How to store Kung Pao Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Top tips
- Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
- Food safety
What is Kung Pao Chicken?
Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese dish known for its bold flavors and spicy kick. It is believed to have originated from the Sichuan province of China and has gained popularity worldwide. The dish typically consists of diced chicken stir-fried with a combination of vegetables, peanuts, and a savory sauce.
The key ingredients in Kung Pao Chicken include chicken, peanuts, and a medley of vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and celery. The chicken is usually marinated and then stir-fried until it is tender and slightly crispy. Peanuts are a signature element of this dish, adding a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
Why you will love this Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
- Bold and Exciting Flavors: Kung Pao Chicken is renowned for its bold and complex flavors. The combination of savory soy sauce, tangy vinegar, and spicy chili peppers creates a taste sensation that is both mouthwatering and addictive.
- Perfect Balance of Textures: The dish offers a delightful contrast of textures. The tender and juicy chicken pairs harmoniously with the crunchy peanuts, while the crisp vegetables add a refreshing element to each bite.
- Customizable Spice Level: Kung Pao Chicken's spiciness can be adjusted to individual preferences. Whether you prefer a milder version or an extra fiery kick, the dish allows for flexibility, making it suitable for a wide range of palates.
- Versatile and Adaptable: Kung Pao Chicken can be tailored to personal preferences and dietary needs. It can easily be modified to include additional vegetables or protein sources, making it a versatile dish suitable for various tastes and dietary restrictions.
- Quick and Easy Preparation: With its simple stir-fry technique, Kung Pao Chicken can be prepared in a relatively short amount of time. It is a convenient option for those looking to whip up a flavorful meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Chicken breast
- Bell pepper
- Vegetable oil
- Soy sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Green onion
See recipe card for quantities for this Kung Pao Chicken with Peanuts.
How to make Kung Pao Chicken
In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned and cooked through. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside.
In the same skillet, add garlic, onion, and celery. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes until they start to soften. Add the diced bell peppers and continue stir-frying for another 2 minutes until they are slightly tender. Return the cooked chicken to the skillet and add the sauce mixture. Stir everything together to coat the chicken and vegetables evenly. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Add the peanuts and stir to combine. Cook for another minute to warm the peanuts. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped green onions. Serve hot with steamed rice or noodles.
Hint: When you pour the sauce in, lower the heat to prevent burning. Make sure to keep stirring at low heat.
What to serve with Kung Pao Chicken
- Steamed Rice: One of the most common and traditional choices is to serve Kung Pao Chicken with steamed white rice. The fluffy rice provides a neutral base that balances the flavors and helps absorb the delicious sauce.
- Fried Rice: For a flavorful twist, serve Kung Pao Chicken alongside a side of fried rice. The combination of the savory stir-fried rice with the spicy chicken creates a satisfying and complete meal.
- Noodles: Opt for noodles such as lo mein, chow mein, or even rice noodles. Tossed in a soy-based sauce or simply served alongside the Kung Pao Chicken, noodles add a comforting and filling element to the meal. Check out my Spicy Drunken Noodles.
- Stir-Fried Vegetables: Complement the Kung Pao Chicken with a side of stir-fried vegetables. Broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, and mushrooms are popular choices. The vibrant and crunchy vegetables provide freshness and balance to the dish. Check out my Baby Corn Stir Fry.
- Vegetables: For a lighter option, steamed vegetables like bok choy, baby corn, and snow peas can be served alongside the Kung Pao Chicken. The steamed veggies add a crisp texture and a nutritious element to the meal. Check out my Air Fried Bok Choy.
- Protein Substitutions:
- Tofu: Replace the chicken with firm tofu cubes for a vegetarian or vegan version of Kung Pao Chicken. Make sure to press and drain the tofu before using to remove excess moisture.
- Shrimp: Swap the chicken with peeled and deveined shrimp for a seafood twist. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as shrimp cook faster than chicken.
- Nut Substitutions:
- Cashews: If you prefer a different nut, replace the traditional peanuts with cashews or almonds. They will provide a slightly different flavor and texture to the dish.
- Sunflower Seeds: For a nut-free option, sunflower seeds can be used as a substitute. They add a pleasant crunch and texture to the dish.
- Vegetable Variations:
- Bell Peppers: While traditional Kung Pao Chicken typically uses red and green bell peppers, you can experiment with other varieties such as yellow or orange bell peppers for a colorful twist.
- Snap Peas: Add snap peas to the dish for a crisp and refreshing vegetable element.
- Broccoli: Include broccoli florets for added texture and nutritional value.
- Sauce Ingredient Substitutes:
- Tamari or Coconut Aminos: If you require a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, you can use tamari or coconut aminos as a substitute. They offer a similar savory flavor profile.
- Hoisin Sauce: Replace hoisin sauce with oyster sauce for a slightly different flavor profile, or use a combination of soy sauce, honey, and Chinese five-spice powder for a homemade alternative.
Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Variations
- Vegetable Kung Pao: For a vegetarian or vegan version, replace the chicken with tofu or a variety of vegetables such as mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, and snap peas. Follow the same recipe, adjusting the cooking time for the vegetables or tofu accordingly.
- Cashew Kung Pao: Swap the peanuts with cashew nuts for a different flavor and texture. Cashews have a milder taste and a creamier texture, which can add a unique twist to the dish.
- Shrimp Kung Pao: Substitute the chicken with shrimp to create a seafood variation of Kung Pao. Make sure to adjust the cooking time as shrimp cook much faster than chicken. You can also use a combination of chicken and shrimp for a surf-and-turf version.
- Kung Pao Tofu: Replace the chicken with cubed tofu for a vegetarian or vegan alternative. Be sure to press and drain the tofu to remove excess moisture before cooking. You can also marinate the tofu in a soy sauce-based marinade for extra flavor.
- Kung Pao Beef: Instead of chicken, use thinly sliced beef, such as flank steak or sirloin, to create a beefy version of Kung Pao. Stir-fry the beef quickly to maintain its tenderness and combine it with the classic Kung Pao sauce.
Check out this Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen.
- Wok or Skillet: A wok is the traditional choice for Chinese stir-frying, but you can also use a large skillet or frying pan. The wide, sloping sides of a wok allow for even heat distribution and efficient stirring.
- Knife and Cutting Board: You'll need a sharp knife and a cutting board to chop and prepare the ingredients, such as chicken, vegetables, and garnishes.
- Mixing Bowl: A medium-sized mixing bowl will be useful for marinating the chicken or tofu, and for combining the sauce ingredients.
- Whisk or Fork: To mix the sauce ingredients together, you'll need a whisk or a fork.
- Measuring Spoons and Cups: Use measuring spoons and cups to accurately measure the ingredients for the sauce.
- Tongs or Spatula: Tongs or a spatula will come in handy for stirring and flipping the ingredients in the wok or skillet.
- Garlic Press (optional): If you prefer using minced garlic, a garlic press can make the task easier. However, you can also finely mince garlic with a knife.
- Serving Dish and Utensils: Prepare a serving dish or plate to present the finished Kung Pao Chicken. You may also need serving utensils such as tongs or a spatula.
- Stove or Cooktop: Kung Pao Chicken is typically cooked on a stove or cooktop, so you'll need a heat source to cook the dish.
How to store Kung Pao Chicken
If you have leftover Kung Pao Chicken that you'd like to store for later consumption, here are some guidelines to follow for proper storage:
- Cool the Chicken: Allow the Kung Pao Chicken to cool down to room temperature before storing it. Putting hot food directly in the refrigerator can raise the temperature inside and potentially affect other perishable items.
- Transfer to an Airtight Container: Transfer the cooled Kung Pao Chicken to an airtight container. Use a container that is the appropriate size to hold the chicken without too much empty space, as excess air can promote spoilage.
- Refrigerate promptly: Place the airtight container with the Kung Pao Chicken in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Aim to refrigerate it within 2 hours of cooking to maintain its freshness and prevent bacterial growth.
- Label and Date: It's a good practice to label the container with the contents and the date of storage. This will help you keep track of the freshness and avoid consuming it beyond its recommended storage time.
- Storage Time: Kung Pao Chicken can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. Beyond that, its quality may start to decline, and it's best to discard any leftovers.
- Reheating: When you're ready to enjoy the stored Kung Pao Chicken, reheat it thoroughly before serving. You can use a microwave, stovetop, or oven to warm it up. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) to ensure it's safe to eat.
Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Top tips
- Prep Ingredients in Advance: Kung Pao Chicken comes together quickly once you start cooking, so it's helpful to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you begin. Chop the chicken, vegetables, and garnishes ahead of time to streamline the cooking process.
- Use High Heat: Kung Pao Chicken is typically cooked using high heat to achieve that signature stir-fry texture. Ensure your wok or skillet is properly heated before adding the ingredients. This helps to retain the crispness of the vegetables and prevent the chicken from becoming overcooked.
- Maintain Stir-Frying Momentum: Stir-frying requires constant movement of the ingredients to ensure even cooking and prevent sticking. Use a spatula or tongs to toss and stir the ingredients continuously, maintaining a brisk pace throughout the cooking process.
- Adjust Spice Level: Kung Pao Chicken is known for its spicy kick, primarily from the dried chili peppers. Adjust the amount of chili peppers according to your preference for heat. You can also remove the seeds from the peppers for a milder flavor.
- Customize the Sauce: The Kung Pao sauce is a crucial element of the dish. Feel free to adjust the sauce ingredients to suit your taste preferences. You can add more or less soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, or other seasonings to achieve the desired balance of flavors.
- Don't Overcook the Chicken: To ensure tender and juicy chicken, take care not to overcook it. Chicken breast slices should be cooked until they are no longer pink in the center, while still maintaining a slight firmness. Overcooking can result in dry and rubbery chicken.
- Toast the Peanuts: Toasting the peanuts before adding them to the dish can enhance their flavor and add a delightful crunch. Simply place the peanuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until they become golden and aromatic. Be careful not to burn them.
- Garnish with Fresh Ingredients: Just before serving, garnish your Kung Pao Chicken with fresh ingredients like green onions or cilantro. These additions provide a burst of freshness and color to the dish.
- Serve Immediately: Kung Pao Chicken is best enjoyed immediately after cooking. Serve it hot over steamed rice or noodles to fully savor the flavors and textures.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove