Kung Pao is one of my all time favorite Chinese dishes. It’s relatively quick and easy to make compared to other Chinese dishes and it has a spicy zing to it which I live for! Now, there are usually two ways that I make this dish, a longer method for when I’m feeling fancy and also have the time, and then there is the quicker, throw everything in the pan and go method; and the latter is the one I’m about to teach you! When I was learning how to make this, I tried about seven different recipes, using almost always the same ingredients, but slightly different methods, and then I combined all the tips and tricks from each method to create my own. So let’s start!
The ingredients you need for this recipe are:
- Chicken breast (cut this into strips rather than cubes, as it goes better in this recipe)
- Red dried peppers/ Red dried birds eye chilies (don’t let these scare you away, these are the star of the show!)
- Cashew nuts (or any other nuts of your choice)
- Green Bell pepper
- Red onion
- Soya sauce and oyster sauce (you can easily find a mixture of these by Blue Dragon at Tesco or Sainsbury’s, its called the Oyster and Spring Onion Sauce)
- Garlic and ginger
- Salt and peppers
Firstly, you are going to start with marinating the chicken, as it needs to sit in it for a while to soak up the mixture, and for it to fry up nice and crisp. So, what you need to do is, to cut the chicken breast into thin strips and add these to a mixture of a egg, a teaspoon of cornstarch and a little bit of soya sauce that you will make in a separate bowl. Let the chicken sit in this for around 10 minutes while you prep the other things.
Next, chop up your green bell pepper and red onion into cubes or squares. Then, take a pan and add oil, I prefer either olive oil or sesame oil in this recipe as it really brings out all the flavors really beautifully! When the oil is heated up a little bit add around 5 dried red chilies (this is a safe number if you cannot handle too much spice, or go with lesser if you’re like some of my friends, and can only handle lemon and herb at Nandos!) The dried chilies are to be cooked in the oil with a little bit of crushed ginger and garlic to infuse all the flavours together.
Once that has cooked up for only a couple of minutes, you should turn up the flame to high heat and add in the chicken strips one by one and by hand. It is better to do it this way so the mixture won’t splash everywhere and the chicken won’t stick together. You will be able to tell when one side of the chicken is ready as it transforms into a golden brown colour; once it has done this, then it is time to turn the chicken to the other side and let it cook for a couple of minutes more. Poke one of the strips with a fork to check if the chicken is done, and then turn the flame down to a medium low temperature.
Now it is time to add in the bell pepper and red onion, and season your pan with salt and pepper to taste and let this cook for a few minutes, just so the veggies soften up a bit and infuse flavours with what else is in the pan. Moving on, once you are happy with the state your veggies are in, it is time for the second to last step, which is to add the sauce. So, in a separate bowl, take your soya and oyster sauce or the Blue Dragon oyster and spring onion sauce (one packet should be enough) and mix it in with some sesame oil. Now, sometimes I add chicken broth to my sauce as well, but you can omit this step to make the process faster and cheaper (even though I believe it doesn’t make a big difference, but there is something off-putting about reading a long list of ingredients). Moreover, I even go on to sometimes add some chili sauce or ketchup for a tangy flavor and a bright colour, but then again, you can omit this too and it won’t make a big difference.
Now, add the sauce which you have chosen and whatever extra ingredients apart from the soya and oyster sauce and give everything a good old mix! The last step is to sprinkle on top the roasted cashew nuts and then give that a good old mix too! Finally, you can add some chopped green onions on top for a nice crunch and colour if you like and then you’re done! Enjoy!
I would highly recommend all of my readers to give this recipe a try as it does not disappoint! If you do recreate it, use the hashtag #CUBRecipes on Instagram to show me your creation!