Kung Pao Chicken

I’ve been working on this recipe for a while. It started out as the marinade for my Spicy Asian Shrimp and evolved from there.

Please make an effort to find both the black bean sauce and the Sichuan peppercorns. The sauce adds a lot of depth and heat to the dish and the peppercorns provide that unique tingling/numbing sensation that offsets the heat.

1 pound chicken (I used tenders), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/4 cup peanuts
4-6 dried whole tien tsin peppers
½ cup sliced scallions, chopped
4 whole garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup baby spinach

Marinade
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1  teaspoon cornstarch

Kung Pao Sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste with garlic
1 tablespoon black bean chili sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Put the chicken pieces in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them. Turn to coat, then squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it up, and stash in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.

Combine the chili paste, black bean sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, wine and cornstarch. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the cornstarch is fully incorporated.

Heat a wok with oil over medium-high heat. Before the oil begins to smoke, add the chilies and garlic. Stir-fry briefly until the chilis are slightly blistered and black and oil is slightly fragrant. Add the chicken and stir-fry for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Pour in sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients. When the sauce is thickened and shiny, stir in peanuts, cilantro, and spinach. Mix to coat, reduce heat and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until the spinach is wilted.

Garnish with thinly sliced scallions, and serve.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
This is a quick and tasty dish that saves us from the nutritional horrors of take-out. It’s sweet, sour, salty, and hot all at the same time.

The Nutrition:
1 1/2 cups is 435 calories and 9 Weight Watchers points. Adding the cilantro and spinach and cutting back on the peanuts makes this a much lighter recipe. Serve it with a little brown rice and a lot of steamed broccoli and it is very filling.

One year ago – Warm Up Wings & Tenders
Two years ago – Ze Boeuf

4 thoughts on “Kung Pao Chicken”

  1. Kung Pao chicken has been on my list of things to make for two years. I’m so glad to see the 5 star rating. I’ll look for those two ingredients before I give it a try.

  2. Dave, I was excited by your recipe and was ready to make it. My local store carries the black bean chili sauce you have linked on the posting. I read the ingredients and wheat was mentioned several times. I was surprised because I know you are celiac like my daughter and me! I went on the Internet to see if I could make my own black bean chili sauce and found that the process is thoroughly smelly and the fermentation process requires sprinkling of wheat on the soy beans!!! Not good for us who have to live gluten free… If you come across some GF black bean chili sauce, please share!

    1. I hear you. It’s tough to find GF black bean sauce. It took me forever to find the Accord Foods Black Bean Chili Sauce and to double check with them that it is gluten free. They are a US-based company and I trust their labeling to be accurate. I’ve never had an issue with their products. I can sometimes find them in one of our local Asian markets, but usually just order them online.

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