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  • Writer's pictureKevin Dam

"Unlocking the Secrets to Perfecting Kung Pao Chicken at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide"

Kung Pao Chicken is a classic Chinese dish known for its bold flavors, with a combination of spicy, sweet, and salty elements, and the distinct crunch of peanuts. Here's a recipe along with tips and tricks to make the perfect Kung Pao Chicken at home.


  • Dish name: Kung Pao Chicken

  • Cuisine: Chinese

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes (plus marinating time)

  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into cubes

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (divided)

  • 2 tablespoons Chinese Shaoxing wine or dry sherry (divided)

  • 2 teaspoons corn starch

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 8-10 dried red chilies, deseeded and halved

  • 3 green onions, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, crushed (optional)

  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch


  1. Marinate chicken with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine, and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch for 30 minutes.

  2. In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the dried red chilies until they just start to darken but don’t burn them.

  4. Add the chicken and stir-fry until it is nearly cooked through. Remove chicken and chilies from the wok.

  5. Add an additional tablespoon of oil to the same wok, stir-fry the garlic, ginger, green onions, and Sichuan peppercorns (if using) for about a minute.

  6. Return the chicken and chilies to the wok, pour the sauce over, and mix everything well.

  7. Stir in the peanuts and cook for another 1-2 minutes until everything is well-coated and the sauce thickens.

  8. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Meat Preparation: To ensure the chicken is tender, you can use a technique called “velveting” by adding baking soda to the marinade and rinsing the chicken after 30 minutes before proceeding with the rest of the marinade.

  • Controlling Heat: Adjust the number of dried chilies to your taste for spiciness.

  • Sichuan Flavor: For an authentic flavor, seek out Sichuan peppercorns, as they add a unique numbing sensation to the dish.

  • Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh garlic and ginger for the best flavor rather than powdered versions.

  • Peanut Crunch: To maintain the peanuts' crunch, add them at the very end of the cooking process.

  • Stir-Frying: Keep the heat high and stir regularly to give a smoky "wok hei" flavor without burning the chicken or sauce.

  • Thickening Sauce: Ensure the sauce is mixed well before adding as the cornstarch settles at the bottom.

  • Serving: Garnish with extra chopped green onions and serve with white or brown rice to soak up the sauce.

Enjoy your homemade Kung Pao Chicken with its exciting play of textures and depth of flavor. It's a restaurant-quality meal that you can recreate in your own kitchen with ease.

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