LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHINESE TAKEOUT DISHES AT HOME WITH THIS SPICY KUNG PAO CHICKEN RECIPE – SPICY AND PACKED FULL OF FLAVOR, THIS STIR FRY IS DELICIOUS AND SIMPLE TO MAKE!
This Spicy Kung Pao Chicken is inspired by Thai flavors of fish sauce and lime juice. I know, I know, fish sauce and lime juice are not traditionally used in kung pao chicken, but I think it adds and extra boost of umami flavor, and who can say no to that? Plus, this dish is healthy! Bonus, right? This spicy kung pao chicken is marinated in fish sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch and sherry, with the cornstarch added to help the sauce to thicken.
Made with honey, hoisin sauce, a touch of fish sauce, ginger and soy sauce, the kung pao sauce adds a delicious umami flavor to the dish. Add the toasted chilies and peanuts, and you have a perfect melding of spicy and savory. Kung pao style dishes are traditionally served with white rice to counteract the heat in the dish, but I say serve it with whatever you like. Oh, and just a warning, if you eat one of the chilies, you may be miserable the rest of the meal. Does not matter how much white rice you eat at that point. At least in my experience. But as I’ve stated on this blog more than once, my tolerance for spicy food has decreased immensely as I have gotten older.
Related Recipe: Kung Pao Calamari
With that said, let’s get started. Cut the chicken breast into 1 inch cubes. Combine the marinade ingredients and add the chicken. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
While the chicken marinades, we are going to toast the chilies and peanuts, and prepare the sauce.
First, toast the sichuan peppercorns over medium heat until they are fragrant. Remove and grind them with mortar and pestle. Add more peppercorns for more of that tongue tingling feeling, if desired. Combine all sauce ingredients while chicken is marinating. Set the sauce aside.
Next we toast the chilies. Why you ask? Well, toasting the chilies helps to bring out the flavors and adds a slightly charred and smoky flavor to the dish. It will also extract heat from the chilies, adding a lovely level of spice to our chicken. Yes, I said lovely.
Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the dried chilies. Toast until they start to brown, being careful to not let them burn. Chilies will be browned, but not black. I suggest using a fan because they will start to smoke and once you get that chili pepper smoke in your lungs, life becomes much less pleasant. Sometimes even downright miserable as I’m told by a “friend.” So much potential misery here. As the chilies start to brown, add the raw peanuts. Toss continuously, being careful not to burn the peanuts. Once browned, remove from heat and set aside.
Heat another tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok pan (IMUSA USA WPAN-10019 Coated Wok with Wood Handles, 14-Inch, Black) over high heat until almost smoking. Add the marinated chicken breast, in batches, and brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. I typically use 2 batches to keep the heat from falling when the chicken hits the pan. Add the sauce once the chicken is cooked through.
Stir until the sauce thickens, then add the chilies and peanuts, mixing until well distributed.
Serve this spicy kung pao chicken with white rice, brown rice, vegetables or really anything your heart desires. Personally? I like to serve mine with these spicy asian style roasted brussels sprouts and perhaps some brown rice. But that’s me.
Variations: Chop a bell pepper (red, green or yellow) into 1 inch pieces and add while chicken is browning.
Check out some of these other great Chinese takeout recipes: