Kung Pao or Princess Chicken is the first Chinese food I remember
eating. Daddy would take my sister and I to a place near the mall in
Birmingham, Alabama when we were little. I adored it - crunchy and
spicy, with that luscious sauce - it became my standard order no matter
where I went or to where I traveled.
I think I've had
every cruddy Kung Pao chicken served in the US. I got lucky with my
first exposure - if I had had most Kung Pao dishes I've had since then,
I probably never would have eaten it again. Either so fiery it's
painful - and still not tasting like much - or made mostly of celery -
which is cheap, and therefore used as a filler in a lot of restaurants
- or simply insipid with no flavor - this beautiful little dish has
been sorely abused.
I wanted the real thing - and I'm
rather proud of the fact that this is. Especially since Kung Pao is an
absolute favorite of my sister - it's really her thing. When trying to
name this my five year old - trying to say 'kung pao' - came up with
"Kelly's Bang Pow Chicken". This takes as well to chicken, pork or
shrimp. I'm sure beef would work too - I just haven't tried it yet. It
is absurdly easy, and requires very little in the way of specialty
items. Even those are easily substitutable, I listed my favorite
replacement ingredients, so you have no excuse not to try this one!.
1 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breast, shrimp, pork - the prep is the same), diced
1 medium yellow onion, large dice
1 green or red bell pepper - large dice
1 rib of celery - sliced on the bias
3-4 green onions, sliced on the bias
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of plain peanuts - or cashews are even better if you have them
1/4 cup sake or white wine - I often use Pinot Gris or Chardonnay
2 Tbl soy sauce - I use low-sodium when I can find it
1/2 Tbl black vinegar, or rice wine vinegar is acceptable
1 tsp fish sauce - you can leave this out altogether, although I do like the depth of flavor it gives
2 Tbl sesame oil
2 Tbl cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbl olive oil
Sauce - I LOVE Sriracha - a very spicy hot sauce I find even in my local
grocery. I love it because a little packs a huge punch, and the flavor
profile is just right for this dish. Add it at the end - so everybody's
happy with how spicy their own portion is.
two bowls on the counter - one in which to mix your marinade, and one
for your sauce. In the first bowl place 2 Tbl sake, 1/2 Tbl soy sauce,
1 tsp vinegar, and 1 tsp cornstarch. Whisk well, and pour over chicken.
Cover and allow to refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
2. In the second
bowl, combine remaining sake, soy sauce and black vinegar, fish sauce,
sesame oil, remaining cornstarch and chicken broth. Whisk together and
3. Heat a very large skillet or wok over very high
heat. Add half of olive oil to pan, and toss in the marinaded chicken.
Stir fry for a couple of minutes, until meat is just barely cooked
through. Do not finish the cooking at this point, or it will be
overcooked later. When opaque, remove from pan.
4. Add remaining
olive oil to pan and toss in onion, pepper and celery. Stir fry for
about two minutes, and add garlic. Continue to stir fry until the
vegetables are crisp-tender, about five minutes.
5. Add the chicken back to the pan, and stir-fry together with vegetables, for about two minutes.
6. Whisk together sauce ingredients, and pour these on top of the chicken, making sure to scrape the fond (fond
means the sticky brown bits on the bottom of the skillet) up and
stirring it into the sauce as it thickens. Add nuts and green onions
and remove from heat.
Serve with Sriracha or other hot sauce.
almost always serve it with Fried Rice for Midnight,
especially since they have so many similar ingredients - it's easy to
line the stuff up on the counter and pop it into whatever pan it goes