Why order take-out when you can make this homemade Kung Pao Chicken Stir-fry in the comfort of your own kitchen? A delicious sweet and spicy dish consisting of tender pieces of chicken, peanuts, zucchini and bell pepper in a flavorful sauce! Serve over rice or noodles. Yields 4 generous portions in about 1 hour.
We love Chinese food in any form.
From a favorite family-owned restaurant to the popular chains – bonus points if there’s a drive through! Once on a I’m-in-no-mood-to-cook night, Pat suggested getting carryout. Uh okay, twist my arm. And so we drove 35 minutes to the nearest Panda Express. Yes, it had a drive through and yes it was everything and then some!
We ended up ordering a bunch of different items from the menu, like orange chicken, broccoli beef, chow mein noodles and fried rice. Kung Pao chicken was also in one of the adorable red paper cartons and it was my personal favorite. Deliciously spicy, subtly sweet and lots of veggies! I was instantly smitten and dedicated my time to making my very own Kung Pao Chicken Stir-fry.
Needless to say, this is now a favorite in our household.
To make this Kung Pao Chicken while in your pj’s, here’s what you will need:
- Kung Pao sauce
- egg white (not pictured – face meet palm)
- white pepper
- boneless skinless chicken breasts
- peanut oil
- red bell pepper
- green onions
- lightly salted or unsalted roasted peanuts
To make this homemade Kung Pao sauce you will need:
- ground Szechuan peppercorns – click here to see the best way to prepare/ground your own Szechuan peppercorns
- red pepper flakes
- grated fresh ginger
- chinkiang vinegar
- low-sodium tamari
- shaoxing wine
You can play with these a little, for a more vinegar-y sauce up the chinkiang vinegar or add more sugar for a sweeter sauce.
My guess is that a couple of these ingredients may seem unfamiliar to some of you. However, in order to make an authentic tasting stir-fry sauce, these ingredients are needed. I don’t know of any substitutes to tell you to swap in for these that would yield the same result. I’ve linked to the items/brands I use in the recipe printable and the end of this post.
So, with that said, into a mixing bowl measure 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if using), 6 large cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, 1/3 cup chinkiang vinegar, 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari (or sub with low-sodium soy sauce) and 1/4 cup shaoxing wine.
Then whisk well to combine and then scoot this off to the side.
Next, heat 1 teaspoon of the peanut oil a wok or large chefs pan over high heat. Then in a larger mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Measure and add in 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, stirring to combine. Add in 1-1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts and toss until coated evenly.
This coating will give the chicken a crispy “breading like” texture when seared in the hot wok.
Get your wok HOT!
Once it’s hot, work in batches (of 3) adding the chicken in an even layer, let the chicken cook for 5 to 6 minutes to form a deeply golden crust before turning and continuing to cook. Then when the chicken is fully cooked, transfer it to a clean dish and repeat with the remaining chicken, adding up to 2 more teaspoons of oil as needed.
Don’t rush this step. Allow your pan to get REALLY hot and don’t overcrowd the pan, or else you’ll risk steaming the chicken instead of searing, thus missing out on those caramelized edges and flavor.
Next add in the final teaspoon of peanut oil to the wok along with 2 medium diced zucchini, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 bunch green onions and 1/3 cup lightly salted or unsalted peanuts with a pinch of kosher salt. Toss to coat and let the vegetables cook for about 3 minutes only stirring occasionally so they have a chance to caramelize.
When the vegetables have some color and have soften, pour in the Kung Pao sauce and stir until thickened. About 1 to 2 minutes. Next, stir in the (fully) cooked chicken, tossing to coat until heated through.
Serve with rice or rice noodles. Sprinkle with green onions, more chopped peanuts and pepper flakes for some spicy heat.
Kung Pao Chicken Stir-fry
FOR THE KUNG PAO SAUCE:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to preference
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
- 2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/3 cup Chinkiang vinegar
- 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari, or substitute with low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil, cold pressed, I use Spectrum
KUNG PAO STIR-FRY:
- 1¼ pound boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-size pieces
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 4 teaspoons cold pressed peanut oil, I use Spectrum
- 2 medium zucchinis, quartered and diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, lightly salted or unsalted
MAKE THE KUNG PAO SAUCE:
- In a mixing bowl, measure and add in all of the ingredients and whisk to combine.
MAKE THE KUNG PAO STIR-FRY:
- Heat 1 teaspoon peanut oil in a wok or large chefs pan on high heat.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add in 2 teaspoons cornstarch and white pepper, stir to combine. Toss the chicken in the egg mixture until coated.
- Once your wok is very hot, work in batches (of 3) adding the chicken in an even layer, let the chicken cook for 5 to 6 minutes to form a deeply golden crust before turning and continuing to cook. Transfer the chicken to a clean dish and repeat with the remaining chicken, adding up to 2 more teaspoons of oil as needed.
- Next add in the final teaspoon of peanut oil to the wok along with the diced zucchini, peppers, green onions and peanuts with a pinch of kosher salt. Toss to coat and let the vegetables cook for about 3 minutes only stirring occasionally.
- When the vegetables have some color and have soften. Pour in the Kung Pao sauce and stir until thickened. About 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the (fully) cooked chicken, tossing to coat.
- Once heated through, serve with rice or rice noodles with sliced green onions, additional peanuts and red pepper flakes if desired.
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