Quick Asian stir-fries make especially satisfying weeknight dinners. Kung pao is traditionally a seriously spicy dish, but we've given ours a moderate level of heat; feel free to adjust the quantity of red-pepper flakes to suit your taste. Serve with steamed rice.
4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops cut separately into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
How to Make It
In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sherry, and the 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, water, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sherry, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the peanuts and stir-fry until light brown, about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the white part of the scallions and the red-pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring, until almost done, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy-sauce mixture and the scallion tops and simmer until the chicken is just done, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the peanuts.
Cashew Chicken: Substitute the same amount of cashews for the peanuts.
Wine Recommendation: Since the chicken is salty and spicy, the drink's first job is to refresh. An aromatic white wine such as a sauvignon blanc from California or South Africa will do nicely, as will your favorite cold beer.
This is a wonderful dish. As with all Asian dishes you can adjust the spiciness to your preferences. We like it spicy so I added more red pepper flakes. A true Kung Pao has peanuts so I added those. Most Kung Pao dishes use skinless chicken thighs that are more tender than breasts so I changed that. Yum!!
We loved this dish! But...I only give it 5 stars with the modifications I implemented. First, it needs renamed--it is NOT Kung Pao Chicken! Kung Pao is very spicy, and this recipe as written is NOT. I doubled, maybe even tripled the red pepper flakes, and added cayenne pepper as well, and it came out decently spicy, but not overwhelming. I also chopped the peanuts, did not use any scallions (don't think it needs them), and used lite soy sauce--it still came out very salty, so this is not a recipe for anyone watching sodium. Think I may use lightly salted peanuts next time to give it better balance. I will repeat, and soon! Served with Basmati rice--delish :)
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