Sunday, July 01, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

Serve this home-style version of kung pao chicken and peanuts with a side of steamed white rice. If you're feeding a large crowd, stir-fry an additional batch instead of making one large serving at once; overcrowding the pan won't allow the ingredients to cook properly. From the book "Mad Hungry," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).


1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil (or more, if necessary)
3/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or cashews
2 whole scallions, thinly sliced
4 whole dried Chinese red peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch


In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, wine, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil. Dice the chicken and toss it in the marinade.
Heat a wok or skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the oil. Lightly fry the peanuts for about 1 minute and remove. Add the scallions, red peppers, and garlic. Stir-fry for about 20 seconds.
Just before adding to the pan, coat the chicken in the cornstarch. Fry until the chicken is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes (depending on the pan and the heat). Return the peanuts to the pan and mix thoroughly to combine with the chicken. Serve immediately with white rice.
Cook's Note

Stir-frying requires only a good wok or saute pan, a long-handled spatula, some protein or vegetables, a heat source, and oil. Whenever making stir-fry, set the table, including the drinks, and prepare all the ingredients in advance, then start to stir-fry at the last minute. Use the highest heat possible and work fast in order to cook the food without “steaming” it and losing moisture. Work in batches, don't overcrowd the pan.

Serves 4

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