Updated: Mar 29
Forget about the Take away Kung Po, you will never get Kung Po taste right outside China, unless you know someone actually from there!
I grew up knowing Kung Po is a Sichuan dish, usually spicy, might contains peanut, but usually half floating in some orange red sauce, I didn’t particular like it as it wasn’t too stand out from thousand of delicious Cantonese food. Until the time I went to Cheng Du ( Sichuan ) when I was 19, me and my dear friend Iris went backpacking to China for our first time, that trip was one of my most precious travel experience, first time heading somewhere far without a tour, first time seeing the extraordinary Jiuzhaigou ( a truly out of the world nature reserve) , first time stepping foot on the Tibetan Plateau , first time seeing the sky and mountain lake that as blue as Turquoise, first time squashing in an old Chinese minibus for nearly 20 hours in a muddy scary mountain road, at of course, first time tasting the authentic Sichuan Cuisine and that amazing Sichuan Pepper!
Totally stunning! All of above!
So I don’t need to describe how amazing the Sichuan Pepper is, because it is the root of all Sichuan Food, Sichuan food is not just spicy, but they use Sichuan Pepper to add that tingling numbness on your tongue, when combine with Chilli in cooking, we called in ‘Ma La’ = Hot and Spicy.
When I saw that Kung Po Chicken the first time in Chengdu, I cannot believe the look of it, they were completely different with what we used to see in Canton, in Sichuan, they are a dry stir fry, no gravy flowing, no heavy sauce, just nice and clear with the beautiful red sauce slightly coating on it, along with lots of peanut, it looked so much more appealing!
And the taste, was not as explosive as the Ma Po Tofu we had the day before, ( that can kill people with the spiciness) but was gorgeously cooked with garlic, ginger, fragrant Sichuan pepper and Chilli, slightly sweet but spicy, and those peanut make the whole dish complete! It was a simply beauty that you would miss for your whole life!
I am sorry I cannot bring you to Sichuan for that stunning taste, but here we are, let’s cook this Kung Po Chicken and hope you have a real taste of Sichuan!
Kung Po Chicken
400g boneless/skinless chicken breast cut into 1 1/2 cm cubes
1 tsp shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch / corn flour
50ml of water
2 tsps light soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese black vinegar (or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar)
1 1/2 tsp Chinese Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 to 2 tsp Chinese Chilli Bean Paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tsps cooking oil
1 tsp garlic (3 cloves)
1 tsp ginger
1/4 red bell pepper (capsicum) seeded and diced
1/4 green bell pepper (capsicum) seeded and diced
50 g bamboo shoot
4 dried chilies cut into ½-inch pieces (add more or less to suit your taste )
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 green onion / scallion stems cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup roasted/unsalted peanuts
1 teaspoons sesame oil
1) Combine all ingredients for the chicken in a shallow bowl; cover and marinate for 20 minutes
2) Use the time to prepare the sauce and vegetable
3) Mix the sauce in a bowl, for later. Heat a wok over high heat.
4) Add 2 tsps of cooking oil, allow to heat up, then add the chicken. Fry the meat for 3-4 minutes while occasionally stirring, until edges are browned.
5) Remove from heat and set aside. In the same work, if there is no oil left, add a tbsp oil again, stir in garlic, ginger, chili and fry for 30 second, then add Sichuan pepper and stir fry for 1 minute.
6) Add the bell peppers, and all the sauce that mixed earlier, let it heat up and stir well.
7) When it begins to thicken slightly, add chicken back into the pan/wok and mix all of the ingredients through the sauce until the chicken is evenly coated and cooked through , around 2 minutes.
8) Stir in green onions, peanuts and sesame oil. Mix well and continue to cook for 2 minutes and the sauce should be well coated on the chicken cube.
9) Serve immediately with steamed rice and a bottle of cold beer! Enjoy!