Kung Pao Style Chicken

Yes, you can make restaurant-quality Chinese takeout food at home… and yes, it does take a little bit of effort, but it is so worth it. The secret lies in the preparation or what we call in the industry; the “mise en place”. The mise en place is a culinary process in which all ingredients are prepared and organized before cooking; a fancy word for “make your life easier”. This way of cooking becomes a way of life, whether it is cooking or baking, I always pull out all the ingredients, preparation bowls, pans, etc… before I start putting any recipe together. It minimizes the risk of forgetting ingredients and certainly makes the cooking part a lot faster. So
to come back to this recipe, this dish combines all the ingredients which we so enjoy in American-style Chinese food ; sweet, spicy and salty, combined with a lot of umami. It is made with ingredients which are readily available. I double the recipe so we can have it the following day with different accompaniments; rice instead of pasta or steamed vegetables.

For 4 persons

Chicken Preparation
450 Gr. Chicken breast cut in small pieces
42 Gr. (1/3 Cup) Corn Starch
Salt & Pepper to taste

Sauce Preparation
6 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar (you can also use White or Chinese Black Vinegar)
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
1 Tablespoon Honey

Vegetable Preparation
3 Cloves garlic finely minces
1 2cm Ginger peeled and finely minced
1 Large red pepper deseeded and sliced thinly
1 Large red onion finely sliced


Start with the sauce – Simply pour all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Next, prepare the vegetables – Mince the garlic and ginger and set aside.
Slice the onions and red pepper and place them in a small bowl.
Cut the chicken in thin slices and place in bowl – Pour the corn starch, season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Using a hot pan or a wok, heat until very hot. When it starts to smoke, pour some vegetable oil to slightly cover the base of the pan and throw in the chicken. Spread it in one layer to give a chance to all the pieces to cook and brown evenly. Flip the chicken pieces over until golden brown on all sides. Once cooked through, place them in a serving bowl with a lid and set aside.
Discard and leftover oil from the pan.
Now for the vegetables, reheat the pan and using a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, when hot, throw in the red peppers, onion, garlic and ginger. Saute the vegetables rapidly so they don’t burn. Cook for about 2 minutes maximum.
Put the chicken back in the pan and pour the sauce over the vegetable/chicken mixture.
Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken. Throw in peanuts, cashews and few coriander leaves or parsley.
The whole process should take no more than 10 minutes maximum.

Whilst you cook the dish, you can prepare a rice or egg noodles, which cook in about 2 minutes. So just before cooking the vegetables, boil your water and throw in the pasta. We often use a rice cooker which makes our life a lot easier. Just before cooking the dish, we start the rice cooker and it is ready by the time we are finished cooking the chicken and vegetables.
Bon appetit !

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