Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kung Po (Inspired) Chicken

I absolutely love Ching-He Huang's recipes. Her recipes are easy, quick and simply delicious! And this one is quite healthy. Tonight we were craving something spicy and Asian so Kung Po Chicken felt like the obvious decision. The reason this is 'inspired' is because I didn't add the cashews and swopped the red peppers for shiitake mushrooms and bok choy. However, the sauce is exactly as she wrote in the recipe. Read below for the improvised recipe. 

Quoting Ching-He Huang from her book Ching's Everyday Easy ChineseThis is a classic dish from Sichuan. It is named after Ding Baochen (1820–86), a governor of Sichuan; "Gong Bao" or "Kung Po" means "Palatial Guardian", in reference to his official title. I love this spicy-sweet dish, but can't stand versions of it made with oyster sauce or cabbage. In my view, it should be numbingly spicy, sweet and tangy. There are many variations of the dish and this is my home-style Western version. The tang comes from the Chinkiang black rice vinegar. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook in: 10 minutes
Serves: 2–4 to share


For the sauce
7 tbsp cold vegetable stock
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
1 tbsp of tomato ketchup
1 tbsp of Chinkiang black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tsp of chili sauce
1 tbsp of cornstarch

For the chicken

2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Salt and white ground pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch or potato flour

1 tbsp of peanut oil
2 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns
4 dried red chilies
1 tbsp of Shaoshing rice wine or dry sherry
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4–5 baby bok choy, sliced
2 scallions, chopped into 1-inch lengths
Handful of dry-roasted cashews 

Add all the ingredients of the sauce to a medium bowl and stir to combine.

Place the chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. 
Add the cornstarch and mix well to coat the chicken pieces. 

Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke and then add the peanut oil. 
Add the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chilies and fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes. 
As the chicken begins to turn opaque, add the rice wine or dry sherry. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the sauce, bring to a boil.
Add the vegetables, and cook in the sauce with the chicken for another 2 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the sauce has thickened and become slightly sticky in consistency. 

Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute.
Toss in the cashews, then transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.

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