Minggu, 03 April 2011

Kung Pao Chicken

My Family loves to go to PF Changs. PF Changs is a Chinese restaurant or Bistro here in the US, nothing fancy, but good food and it happens to be right around the corner from our house. One of our favorit dishes there is Kung Pao Chicken. Kung Pao Chicken is an exemplary example of Szechwan cuisine due to its combination of sweet, sour, salty and hot tastes.
I decided to look for a recipe to make this dish on my own since we don't always feel like going out to eat and was very satisfied how this recipe from Cooks Illustrated turned out. Serve with rice and a hearty dark beer.

Kung Pao Chicken
(from Cooks Illustrated)
Serves 4.     
While we prefer this dish made with chicken thighs rather than breasts because the dark meat has richer flavor and is less prone to drying out, if you prefer, you can replace the thighs with chicken breasts. You can substitute plain rice vinegar for the black rice vinegar (available in Asian markets), but we prefer the latter for its fruity, salty complexity. If you prefer roasted unsalted cashews over peanuts, substitute an equal amount. Do not eat the whole chiles in the finished dish.


1pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs , trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
1tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
2teaspoons soy sauce
3medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2inch piece fresh ginger , peeled and minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1/2cup roasted unsalted peanuts
6small whole dried red chiles (each about 1 3/4 to 2 inches long), 3 chiles roughly crumbled, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
3/4cup low-sodium chicken broth 
2teaspoons black rice vinegar or plain rice vinegar
2teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1tablespoon oyster sauce
1tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 1/2teaspoons cornstarch
1medium red bell pepper , cut into 1/2-inch dice
3medium scallions , sliced thin


  1. 1. Toss chicken with sherry and soy sauce in medium bowl; marinate until thighs have absorbed flavors, about 10 minutes. Mix garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon oil in small bowl; set aside. Combine peanuts and chiles in small bowl; set aside. Mix chicken broth, vinegar, sesame oil, oyster-flavored sauce, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch in small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.
  2. 2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add chicken and cook without stirring for 2 minutes, allowing chicken to brown on one side; stir and cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more, until no longer pink; stir peanuts and chiles into chicken and continue cooking until peanuts have darkened slightly, 30 to 40 seconds longer. Transfer chicken, peanuts, and chiles to bowl; set aside.
  3. 3. Return skillet to burner and reheat briefly, 15 to 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, swirl to coat pan, and add red bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 45 seconds. Clear center of pan, add garlic-ginger mixture, mash into pan with spoon or spatula, and cook until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds; stir into peppers until combined. Stir broth mixture to recombine, then add to skillet along with reserved chicken, peanuts, and chiles; cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, until sauce has thickened to syrupy consistency, about 45 seconds. Stir in scallions and serve.

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