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Kung Pao Chicken for Two

Published November 2018

Why This Recipe Works

We started our spicy, tingly Kung Pao Chicken by toasting peanuts in a skillet to maximize their crunch before setting them aside to cool. Next we toasted crushed Sichuan peppercorns and arbol chiles that we'd halved lengthwise to release their heat. We stirred in plenty of garlic and ginger and then added marinated diced chicken thighs. We covered the skillet to facilitate quick and even cooking of the chicken. When it was almost cooked through, we added some celery for crisp freshness and then a quick and concentrated sauce mixture that cooked down to a glaze. Stirring in the scallions and toasted peanuts last ensured that they retained their all-important crunch.

Ingredients

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Chicken and Sauce

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 ½ teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Stir-Fry

1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts
5 - 7 dried arbol chiles, halved lengthwise and seeded
½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground coarse
1 celery rib, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, cut into ½-inch pieces
Nutritional Information

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Per Serving (Serves 2)

  • Calories 507
  • Cholesterol 159 mg
  • Fat 27 g
  • Sodium 1077 mg
  • Saturated 3 g
  • Carbs 24 g
  • Trans 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber 4 g
  • Monounsaturated 13 g
  • Sugar 12 g
  • Polyunsaturated 7 g
  • Protein 42 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Instructions

Serves 2

Kung pao chicken should be quite spicy. To adjust the heat level, use more or fewer chiles, depending on the size (we used 2-inch-long chiles) and your taste. Have your ingredients prepared and your equipment in place before you begin to cook. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to coarsely grind the Sichuan peppercorns. If Chinese black vinegar is unavailable, substitute sherry vinegar. Serve with white rice and a simple vegetable such as broccoli or bok choy. Do not eat the chiles.

1. For the Chicken and Sauce: Combine chicken, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cornstarch, rice wine, and white pepper in medium bowl and set aside. Stir vinegar, sugar, oil, and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce together in small bowl.

2. For the Stir-Fry: Stir garlic, ginger, and 1½ teaspoons oil together in second small bowl. Combine peanuts and ½ teaspoon oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until peanuts just begin to darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer peanuts to plate and spread into even layer to cool. Return now-empty skillet to medium-low heat. Add remaining 1½ teaspoons oil, arbols, and peppercorns and cook, stirring constantly, until arbols just begin to darken, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until all clumps are broken up and mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Add chicken and spread into even layer. Cover skillet, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Stir chicken and spread into even layer. Cover and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Add celery and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and shiny and coats chicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in scallions and peanuts. Transfer to platter and serve.

TECHNIQUE

LUBRICATE YOUR AROMATICS

The small bits of garlic and ginger in a typical stir-fry can clump up when you add them to the pan, preventing some bits from blooming in the oil and their flavors from distributing evenly throughout the dish. The easy work-around? Combine the aromatics with a tablespoon of oil and add this mixture to the pan.

OIL HELPS GARLIC AND GINGER DISTRIBUTE EVENLY

OIL HELPS GARLIC AND GINGER DISTRIBUTE EVENLY

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.