Kung Pao Chicken


Kung Pao Chicken

Intro Collage

I apologize…to all my fellow Northern Californians…for it is I that could very well be blamed for the sudden, and very noticeable, drop in temperature here in the Bay area.  You see, I recently rambled on about the disparity between our abundant sunshine & mild temperatures and my childhood memories of Christmas seasons on the East coast.  Well, the powers-that-be took that as an action item and tonight we are under a freeze warning.  The horses up North at the barn will be heavily blanketed and the bunny, who normally enjoys spacious living quarters outside will be put into his “mobile home” and take up residence in our sun room for the next few evenings {causing our Hunt Terrier, “Tuffy” …who regularly chases hares up at the horse barn…to be a bit on edge}.  Chaos aside, we will be warming things up a bit with this spicy chicken dish.

While dating Michael in college I learned early on that he was particularly fond of Kung Pao Chicken…tender pieces of stir~fried chicken breast with a silky, slightly thick coating featuring, among other things, soy sauce and rice wine and flecked with bits of dried red peppers.  Years later, he still enjoys this dish but I never thought to make it at home, at least not until I came across this recipe at Saveur for Kong Bao Ji Ding, the traditional Sichuan dish of diced chicken and peanuts sautéed with dried chiles.  Aside from a few ingredients, not normally stocked in my pantry but that were readily available {and very inexpensive} from a local Asian market, the recipe looked fairly uncomplicated.

In addition to the boneless chicken breasts, there are just a few other ingredients that require a bit of chopping: scallions, dried hot red chiles, garlic, & ginger {peanuts are simply stirred in at the end}…


The most time consuming part of this recipe rests in prepping the dried chile peppers…


Their stems & seeds must be removed.  I found that halving them lengthwise and then cutting each section in half made fairly easy work of removing their contents…


Before you know it, the peppers are ready to go…


And then there is the sea of liquid ingredients + some cornstarch…


A few notes at this point:

  • I substituted Coconut Aminos for the soy sauce called for in this recipe.  It is gluten~free, soy~free & raw and the taste it contributes to a recipe is identical to that of soy sauce.
  • I substituted balsamic vinegar for the Chinese black vinegar called for in the original recipe.
  • I used an entire bunch of scallions {10-12}, cooking the white parts and saving the greens as a topping.
  • I used roasted peanuts in place of raw as that is what I had in my pantry.
  • I used a homemade dark chicken stock {as opposed to a regular, light stock} for richness.  You can read about the different stocks I make and use regularly here and see the difference between the two chicken stocks in this photo…


Kung Pao chicken
Serves 4
A homemade version of a traditional Chinese take-out favorite.
  1. 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  2. 4 Tbsp. coconut aminos {or soy sauce}
  3. 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  4. 3 Tbsp. shaoxing {Chinese rice wine}
  5. 2 Tbsp. sugar
  6. 3 Tbsp. chicken stock
  7. 4 teaspoons chiangang {Chinese black vinegar} or balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 Tbsp. Asian sesame oil
  9. 2 teaspoons Chinese dark soy sauce {often referred to as mushroom~flavored soy sauce}
  10. 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
  11. 12 dried hot red chiles, stemmed, halved {crosswise & lengthwise} and seeded
  12. 5-7 scallions, thickly sliced crosswise {white & green parts separated]
  13. 1 large clove garlic, peeled, trimmed and pushed through a garlic press
  14. 1/2 ~inch piece ginger, peeled & grated
  15. 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  1. Mix together cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. of the coconut aminos in a medium bowl, add the chicken, toss well, and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the remaining 3 Tbsp. coconut aminos, rice wine, sugar, stock, vinegar, sesame oil, and dark soy sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat peanut oil in a large non~stick skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add chiles, the white parts of the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chicken. Stir~fry until the chicken is golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add the coconut aminos mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 3~5 minutes. Stir in peanuts. Garnish with remaining green scallions and serve over rice.
Adapted from Saveur
Adapted from Saveur
THE DINNER CONCIERGE http://thedinnerconcierge.com/
 The final dinner plate…



K Initial



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