Kung pao chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a stir-fried dish originating from Szechuan Province that combines chicken with peanuts and dried whole chillis. In this recipe I have substituted the dried chillis, which can sometimes be difficult to source, with fresh ones. If a hotter dish is preferred, add some toasted and crushed Szechuan peppercorns to the cornflour before coating the chicken. Alternatively, don’t deseed the fresh chillis before adding them to the frying pan.

Serve with a green salad e.g. Chinese leaf, soya beans and cucumber ribbons dressed with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and bowls of steamed rice.

Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced diagonally
  • 4cm root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced diagonally
  • 50g roasted peanuts
  • a small handful of fresh coriander, chopped

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp golden (unrefined) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  1. Cut the chicken into small cubes. Toss together with 2 tbsp cornflour until well coated.
  2. Combine all the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  3. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan.  Cook the chicken pieces for around 7 minutes until golden brown and almost fully cooked. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the sliced chilli and cook for another 30 seconds.  
  4. Add the peanuts followed by the sauce and stir continuously until the chicken is coated well and the sauce thickens and becomes sticky. Stir in the spring onions and serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped coriander.