Kung Pao Chicken

Spicy chicken with peanuts, similar to what is served in Chinese restaurants. It is easy to make, and you can be as sloppy with the measurements as you want. Substitute cashews for peanuts, or bamboo shoots for the water chestnuts. You can add red bell peppers and other veggies as you desire. You can't go wrong!

Kung Pao Chicken recipe



  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes


  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 8 to 10 dried red chiles
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts


  1. Marinate the chicken: In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  2. Add the chicken and stir gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the sauce: In another bowl, combine the black vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch and Sichuan pepper. Stir until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved and set aside.
  4. You may need to turn on your stove's exhaust fan, because stir-frying dried chiles on high heat can get a little smoky.
  5. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the base.
  6. Add the chiles and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until the chiles have just begun to blacken and the oil is slightly fragrant.
  7. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add the scallion whites, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
  9. Pour in the sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients.
  10. Stir in the peanuts and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle the scallion greens on top, and serve.


From the family recipe collection of Linda Jolly and Lisa Stephens.