The third dish for my Year of the Dragon Chinese Banquet was Kung Po Chicken and another recipe by Ching-He Huang from her Ching’s Fast Food book. According to the book, this is a classic dish from Sichuan and named after Ding Baochen (1820-86), a governor of Sichuan; ‘Gong Bo’ or ‘Kung Po’ means ‘palatial guardian’ in reference to his official title
Again, it’s all in the preparation…it’s so easy to cook! It is sticky sweet and has a spicy kick to it with dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns.
I prepared the vegetables first by cutting red pepper into chunks and slicing spring onions into 1 inch lengths.
I then cut the chicken into pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper, then added cornflour and mixed to coat the meat. I also dry roasted some cashew nuts in a dry frying pan. To do this I put a frying pan on the heat until it was hot, threw in the nuts and kept tossing them around so that they didn’t burn. I guess you could also put them in the oven to toast them, which I have done before with hazelnuts.
I made the sauce with chicken stock (although the recipe says vegetable, I already had a bag of chicken stock opened for other recipes), light soy sauce, tomato ketchup, Chinkiang black rice vinegar (which I found in Chinatown, but you can substitute it with balsamic vinegar), hoisin sauce, chilli sauce and cornflour.
With everything prepared it was time to get cooking! If you’ve been reading my blog posts about my Chinese cookery adventures you’ll know that you have to get your wok really hot, then add oil and wait for it to start smoking before cooking – it’s this high heat that allows Chinese food to be cooked so fast.
I added Sichuan peppercorns and dried chillis to the wok and stir fried for a couple of seconds…the first time I did this, the oil was way too hot and I scorched the lot, choking us with the fumes >_< So second time around, I didn’t heat it up so much and took it off the heat so I wouldn’t have burnt chilli fumes floating around the kitchen!
I then put in the chicken pieces and stir fried for a couple of minutes until they started to turn opaque and then added rice wine. A few more minutes cooking and the pre-made sauce was added and brought to the boil. In with the red bell peppers and cooked for a further 2 minutes until the chicken was cooked and the sauce became slightly sticky. The spring onions were stirred through and cooked for a minute before finally tossing in the cashew nuts. Onto a served dish and ready to be eaten!
Of all the dishes I made for my Chinese Banquet, this was one of my personal favourites. Yummy!
Kung Po Chicken
Serves 2 – 4 to share
- 2 skinless chicken breasts, or 4 thighs, cut into 1cm slices
- salt and ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp groundnut (peanut) oil or vegetable oil
- 2 tbsps Sichuan peppercorns
- 4 dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine or dry sherry
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 spring onions, chopped into 1 inch lengths
- handful of dry-roasted cashew nuts
For the sauce
- 100ml cold vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- Place the chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add cornflour and mix until the chicken is well coated.
- Make the sauce in a bowl by stirring all the ingredients together and set to one side.
- Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to slightly smoke, add the oil and then the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chillies and fry for a few seconds.
- Add the chicken and stir fry for 2 minutes. As the chicken begins to turn opaque, add the rice wine (or dry sherry) and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Pour over the pre-made sauce.
- Bring to the boil, add the red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened and become slightly sticky in consistency.
- Add the spring onions and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the cashew nuts and stir through.
- Transfer to a serving plate and serve.