Forget take-out, try this easy Kung Pao Chicken recipe, a scrumptious stir-fried chicken dish with the perfect balance of salty, sweet, and spicy flavors. All of your favorite flavors in one popping dish!
What is Kung Pao Chicken?
Kung Pao Chicken is a Chinese stir-fried dish that is a classic Sichuan recipe. It is also known as Kung Po or Gong BaoIt is considered one of the most popular Chinese dishes, together with Char Siu, Wonton Soup, Siomai, and Chow Mien.
Easy Kung Pao Chicken
Tender and juicy chicken in bite-sized pieces, vegetables, and peanuts are stir-fried together in a velvety sweet, salty, and spicy sauce to make this mouthwatering Kung Pao Chicken recipe.
Traditionally, Sichuan peppercorns, Chinese black vinegar, Chinese rice wine, and whole-dried chilies are used to make this dish. But don't worry; as promised, I've made this recipe easier by replacing the difficult-to-find ingredients with pantry staples.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Chicken Breast Fillet - This recipe calls for chicken breasts, which are leaner and have lower fat content. You may also use filleted chicken thighs.
- Soy Sauce - adds depth and umami goodness to the dish. It also gives a pleasing brown color to the stir-fry.
- Cornstarch - used to coat the chicken pieces. It is also a thickening agent for the sauce.
- Baking soda - acts as a tenderizer for the meat.
- Shaoxing wine - adds depth and complexity to the dish. It gives your Kung Pao Chicken an authentic restaurant taste.
- Sugar- you may use either white or brown sugar.
- Rice Vinegar - also referred to as rice wine vinegar. It adds a delightful zing to the sauce.
- Peanuts - add texture and give the dish its nutty flavor. You can substitute this with cashew nuts.
- Dried Chilies - are used more for their aroma than their heat. Dried chilies add a deep, smoky fragrance and mild spiciness to the Kung Pao Chicken.
- Garlic - enhances the flavor and aroma of the dish.
- Zucchini - this is optional, but it balances the dish and adds a bit of freshness to it.
- Green Onion - gives a subtle onion flavor to the dish.
- Red Bell Pepper - gives a sweet, slightly citrusy flavor. It also adds a pop of color to the Kung Pao Chicken.
Foxy Tips for you!
- If you have the time, I recommend marinating the chicken for more than 15 minutes.
- It’s not necessary to add the exact amount of peanuts; you can add more or less.
- If you want a mild spiciness, de-seed the dried chilies. Simply cut the top part of the dried chili and lightly pound with the side of a knife to dislodge the seeds. To separate the seeds, lightly shake them.
- Add more vegetables like carrots and broccoli. Not only do they extend the dish, but they also make the dish even healthier and yummier!
- Depending on your preference, adjust the level of spiciness. For extra heat, add chili pepper flakes!
- Substitute shrimp for the chicken and you’ll have your Kung Pao seafood version.
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Serving and Storing
Enjoy your Kung Pao Chicken with a bowl of steamed rice or stir-fried noodles like Pancit Canton. It’s perfect for your busy weeknight dinner or a filling lunch with your family and friends.
Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To reheat the dish, pop it in the microwave or place it in a saucepan over medium-low heat until heated through.
Kung Pao Chicken (Panda Express) Recipe
- 1 pound chicken breast fillet cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons oil
- ⅓ cup raw peanuts
- 1 small zucchini about a cup , cut into cubes (optional)
- 1 stalk green onion white part chopped finely, green part cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper cut into cubes
- 1 pound chicken breast fillet, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wineIn a bowl, combine the chicken and all ingredients for the marinade. Marinate for 15 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, ¼ cup waterIn a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside until ready to use.
- 3 tablespoons oil, ⅓ cup raw peanutsIn a wok or large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the peanuts and cook, stirring regularly until they turn golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peanuts from the oil and transfer them in a bowl. Set it aside for later.
- 1 stalk green onion, 4-6 pcs whole dried chilis, 1 tablespoon garlicIn the same oil, saute the dried chilis, white part of the green onion, and garlic..
- Add the marinated chicken pieces and stir-fry for about a minute or just until cooked no longer pink.
- 1 small zucchiniAdd the zucchini and fry for a 2-3 minutes or just until cooked but still crisp.
- 1 red bell pepperTurn the heat to high. Add roasted peanuts and red bell pepper and give it a quick stir.
- Then pour in the sauce (make sure to mix before adding). Stir until it thickens. Turn off the heat and add green onions.
- Transfer to a serving bowl or divide over bowls of rice.
You can use a regular cooking wine, dry sherry, or mirin. If you will use mirin, you may omit or reduce the sugar in the recipe as mirin is a bit sweet.
You may use light soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce.
If you want to add specialty ingredients like Sichuan peppercorns, Chinese black vinegar, etc., you may find them in your local Asian grocery stores and supermarkets, or Chinatown shops.