Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao ChickenKung Pao Chicken is a very tasty dish but one I took for granted back when I was still living with my parents. I remember it was very popular during my late teenage years. Although Mom seldom cooked it at home, this dish appeared on the table almost every single time we ate out. Chicken is the primary meat used but the spicy sauce is suitable with seafoods as well as other more “exotic” meats. A popular variant uses frog legs in place of chicken.

This spicy stir-fry originates from the central western province of Sichuan in China and Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns are an essential ingredient in the dish. Strangely, this “pepper” was not found in the versions I had eaten back in Malaysia. In fact, Szechuan peppercorns are hardly ever used there. It is something I discovered only when I moved here.

Kung Pao Chicken

Some years back, a friend from Shanghai brought a roast chicken dish that had a “bite” which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was immediately hooked! My Szechuan Pepper Roast Chicken is based on the one they brought over.

There are many variations of Kung Pao Chicken. The Westernized versions include a combination of vegetables like carrots, bell pepper, celery, and water chestnuts. Szechuan peppercorn is not an integral ingredient in the dish and oyster sauce is often used as a base for the sauce. Sometimes cashew nuts are used in place of peanuts.

Kung Pao Chicken

In Malaysia, onions are often used. I have included it here together with ground Szechuan peppercorn which gives a slight tingly sensation when bitten into. Whole or ground Szechuan peppercorns can be easily purchased at the Asian grocery stores here. You have to give it a try.

Kung Pao Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 8 to 10 dried red chilies
  • 20 oz (560g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into quarter inch thick slices
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1-inch knob ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium size onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Β½ tsp ground Szechuan peppercorn
  • ⅓ cup (50g) dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Shao Hsing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp black/balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp water
  1. Break dried chilies into half. Shake off seeds and soak in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Marinade chicken with rice wine, soy sauce, and pepper for 20 minutes. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Heat up wok or large fry pan. Once wok is heated, add canola oil followed by ginger, onion, minced garlic, and dried chilies. Fry until ingredients are fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add Szechuan peppercorn and marinated chicken and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Pour sauce mixture over chicken. Sauce will become thick and bubbly. Stir to get chicken well coated with the sauce.
  6. Finally stir in roasted peanuts, sliced green onions, and sesame oil.
  7. Remove and serve immediately with steamed rice.

Kung Pao Chicken

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. says

    That is so interesting that you encountered szechuan peppercorns here more than in Malaysia. I have some that I got at Penzey’s Spices, we are lucky to have one open up last summer in Sarasota! I enjoy the Japanese 7 spice that has sansho pepper that is similar to szechuan and is often used insplace of it. I keep forgetting to use szechuan peppercorns, thanks for the reminder this looks great!

    Funny when I first read it I thought it said that you were very popular as a teen :) (which I’m sure you were) πŸ˜‰

  2. says

    I love all the ingredients you’ve used in this recipe. I’m sure it not only looked great, but I could “visualize” the taste. Must be amazing! It’ll make a great winter dish with the heat from the chillies and szechuan peppers. YUM!

  3. says

    A must have dish whenever I visit a Chinese restaurant including seafoods, Chicken Kung Pao! I just love it to the max…

    And the chicken pieces must be fried with flour for me. The crispiness….ahhh!

    Yours is super tempting my friend!

  4. says

    Oh, one of my tze char favourites!!! The versions here usually have cashews. When we eat this, I will pick up all the onion, scallions and chilli bits while hubby will attack the cashews. Of course, we both like the chicken too πŸ˜€

  5. says

    This is a dish I’ve eaten in restaurant many times, but have never tried making it at home. It’s easy! Thanks for such a well written recipe – this is definitely something I should try. Thanks so much.


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