Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday Night's Kung Pao Chicken....Finally Made It!!!

Well, it is Saturday night and I finally got around to making the Kung Pao Chicken recipe I had hoped to make on Wednesday night, but didn't because I didn't want to run around in the rain after work looking for a few ingredients I was missing.  While I have made Kung Pao Chicken before, I typically have used either a seasoning packet or seasoning sauce or just made it up as I went....but since I had found a recipe that looked pretty good I wanted to give it a try.  I must say, in all due honesty, that I am glad it rained Wednesday night and I didn't try tackling this on a weeknight.  It wasn't difficult but it was most definitely more time consuming than I usually like to spend on a weeknight after I get home from work.  Just so I can get your attention quickly here....check out the many colors of the rainbow that I added to this recipe below....both to add more nutritional value as well as give it more "eye candy"....but mostly because I really love fresh vegetables.

I wasn't joking about the colors of the rainbow, now was I... that I've gotten your attention, I will show you the basic steps and then follow it up with the actual recipe....I must say it was as good, if not better (I kind of think it's better) than I have had in any Chinese restaurant.  Instead of keeping you waiting until the nitty gritty end to see the final product, I will show you a quick glimpse below.  I hope you like it...but because it requires several different steps as well as a bit of chopping...I would suggest that if you decide to make it when you are somewhat pinched for time, that you at least get all your veggies and chicken chopped the night before.  If I ever make this recipe on a work night, I will make sure that I have already chopped everything ahead of time so the only thing I have to do is "cook".  With stir-fry, generally speaking, the cooking time is very quick.  However, the time you save cooking is usually spent chopping and prepping your meal instead.  So, chopping everything ahead of time would be a fantastic idea if you want to make this for a work night meal.

 Okay, here goes....the basic steps to assembling this meal are below...I love all the colors.  You can add whatever veggies you like best or omit them all together.  The actual recipe did not call for all these veggies...but to me, it just isn't a stir-fry if it doesn't have some veggies.  I used broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, green onions and lots of fresh garlic.

This is the basic ingredients
Everything chopped and ready to go
The "Sauce" (wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, water, chili paste, vinegar, brown sugar, green onions, garlic)

Heated my wok until hot...
Once wok is hot, add peanut oil and the diced chicken (after marinating for 30 minutes).
Stir-fry marinated chicken
Stir-fry until white and no longer opaque
Stir-fry red & orange peppers
Steam broccoli & carrots
Lightly oven roast unsalted peanuts
Timesaving Tip: Steamed brown rice from local Chinese restaurant
We like brown rice, but it takes about 45 minutes to cook, so for $2.00 we saved some time by picking it up at our local Chinese restaurant.
Another shot of the finished product
Looks good, doesn't it?
Dinner is served


1-1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
breast halves – diced
4 tablespoons white wine
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
2 tablespoons peanut oil for stir-frying
4 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 4
tablespoons water
½-1 cup extra water or broth
4 teaspoons hot chili paste
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
4 teaspoons brown sugar
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, optional
2 cups chopped fresh veggies of choice (steamed or stir-fried), optional
½ cup chopped peanuts

To Make Marinade: Combine 2 tablespoons wine, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons oil (1 each sesame and peanut oil) and 2 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture and mix together.  Place chicken pieces in a glass dish or bowl and add marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
To Make Sauce: In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons wine, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons oil (1 each sesame and peanut oil), 2 tablespoons cornstarch/water mixture, chili paste, vinegar and sugar. Mix together and add green onions, garlic, and water chestnuts (if using). In a medium skillet, heat sauce slowly until aromatic (if sauce becomes too thick, use extra water and thin to desired consistency)
While chicken is marinating and sauce is heating slowly, sauté, stir-fry or steam fresh veggies, if using, to tender-crisp or desired consistency.
Meanwhile, heat large wok or skillet; add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil.  When oil is hot, remove chicken from marinade and stir-fry in a large wok or skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. When sauce is heated and aromatic, add to cooked chicken and let simmer together until sauce thickens, adding extra water as necessary to get desired consistency.  Serve on a bed of rice and sprinkle with peanuts.

*Tips:  I used extra water to thin the sauce, otherwise it is more of a glaze.  I lightly oven roasted the peanuts to give them a more toasty flavor.  I recommend waiting until the chicken and any other veggies you use are cooked before heating the sauce as it thickens quickly once heated.  If you prefer a more spicy flavor, you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for additional heat.


Anonymous said...

I must say it does look very appetizing. Beautiful colors and healthy ingredients!!!! I would have added some fresh mushrooms also.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Well, I agree that fresh mushrooms would have been delicious. Unfortunately, I am the only one in this house that would have thought that! :-(