Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kung Pao Chicken

YIELD: 4 to 8 servings [Depending what other dishes are served with this]

This recipe, one of Ed’s favorites (so favorite he will even cook it), is adapted from Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee’s The Chinese Cookbook. Their introduction to this recipe states:

“The following was named for a high-ranking Chinese official, Ting Kung Pao, who fled to Szechwan as a political refugee a few hundred years ago during the Ching Dynasty. It became popular in many provinces where the inhabitants dote on hot foods, such as Hunan and Kwelchow. An interesting spiced dish, it is redolent with garlic and chili paste, hot peppers, and bean sauce.”

1 large whole chicken breast, boned but not skinned [DON’T go the General Gao route --- SKIN the chicken]

1/2egg white (beat the egg white lightly, then divide in half)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Salt to taste
2 T bean sauce.
1 T hoi sin sauce
1 T chili paste with garlic (Szechwan paste)
1 /2 t sugar
1 T dry sherry or shao hsing wine
1 t monosodium glutamate (optional) [OMIT]
1 T red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened but not chopped
2 cups peanut, vegetable or corn oil [I use less oil and peanut oil]
12 to 16 hot dried red peppers, cut in half [since seeds of chili I get tend to be so hot, I don't cut in half]
1 c raw shelled and hulled fresh unsalted peanuts

[Ed/I usually add 1 red bell pepper cut in ¾” squares when cooking the chicken.]

1.  Cut the chicken into ¾ -inch cubes. Combine with the egg white, cornstarch, and salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Combine the bean sauce, hoi sin sauce, chili paste with garlic, sugar, wine, monosodium glutamate [OMIT], vinegar, and garlic and set aside.

3. Heat the 2 cups [I use ~1/4 c] of oil in a wok or skillet, and when it is almost boiling-hot but not smoking. turn the heat off and add the peanuts. The peanuts should turn light golden brown from retained heat, but if they don’t, turn the heat on and cook briefly, watching carefully - they cook very fast and will continue to cook after being removed from the heat. Drain and reserve the oil.

4. Heat 1 cup of the reserved oil [use just oil reserved from cooking peanuts] in the pan (save the rest for another other use). When the oil is hot, add the chicken mixture. Cook quickly, only about 45 seconds, stirring, until the chicken becomes translucent. Do not brown. Remove the chicken and drain well. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons [I keep 1 T] of the oil from the wok.

5. Add the peppers and cook until dark-about 15 seconds longer. Add the sauce and the chicken and cook about 1 minute [or until chicken is cooked through]. Serve sprinkled with the peanuts.

[I serve with rice]

1 comment:

  1. This is a classic, from one of the first widely disseminated, authentic Chinese cookbooks published in English. If you wish to extend the recipe by adding veggies (and in my opinion making the dish all the better), try adding one large bell pepper, two or three stalks of celery, a medium to large white onion, all coarsely chopped. A special treat: add a pound of asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces. Stir fry the veggies at the start of step four. If you are going vegetarian, you can omit the chicken and cook the veggies only by the same recipe. Simply delicious!

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