Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kung Pao Chicken

The Kung Pao Chicken is a classic dish in Szechuan cuisine, originating in the Sichuan Province of central-western China. I have heard so much about this dish and have tried different versions of the dish, but so far this is the BEST KUNG PAO CHICKEN I have tasted. On my recent trip to Taipei, my friend , Philip, took me to a little " hole-in-the-wall " eatery inside the Shidong Market. When you see the place you would say to yourself... " uh uh .. wrong place !".. it isn't the AMBIENCE one looks for when dining out... it was a small stand inside the market .... which had stools and folding tables without any tablecloths and paper napkins tucked on an empty plastic tumbler.. but looking around you will notice the place was jampacked !... not only the locals eat here but also the expats who want to taste the real szechuan kung pao chicken! The food was served HOT... and the cost of my meal was very cheap! This is a must-try when you are in Taipei.

I was able to get the recipe of the Kung Pao Chicken and i would like to share it with you...This is a healthier version of the tradtional Kung Pao Chicken, the chicken is stir-fried instead of deep-fried, reducing the fat content.
Serves 3 to 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 7 to 8 ounces each

2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
8 small dried red chili peppers
2 cloves garlic
2 green onions (spring onions, scallions)
4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn, optional
1/2 cup peanuts or cashews
a few drops sesame oil, optional

Preparation:Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Combine with the marinade ingredients, adding the cornstarch last. Marinate the chicken for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the sauce and vegetables: In a small bowl, combine the dark soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. Set aside.

Cut the chilies in half so that they are approximately the same size as the chicken cubes. Remove the seeds. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut the green onion on the diagonal into thirds.

Heat the wok over medium-high to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Stir-fry until it turns white and is 80 percent cooked. Remove from the wok.

Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir-fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add the chili peppers and the Szechuan peppercorn if using. Stir-fry briefly until they turn dark red.

Add the sauce to the wok. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken back into the pan. Stir in the peanuts and the green onion. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Serve hot.

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