When I was a kid, I always assumed kung pao chicken (宫保鸡丁/gongbaojiding）was only a Westernized dish. To be fair, the Westernized and Chinese version are cooked differently. The Chinese one has origins in Sichuan meaning you'll be getting much more of a spicy kick and is traditionally a dry stir-fry. The Westernized version is typically much sweeter and I've seen recipes that use orange juice. The Western version also has much more sauce.
In this version, we'll be making a kung pao chicken that is reminiscent of the dry stir-fry version. There'll still be sauce, but just enough to flavor the dish and your rice! The dried chilli peppers will provide a fragrant spiciness and chilli broad bean sauce (豆瓣酱/doubanjiang) for a nice umami flavor.
No Peanut Kung Pao Chicken
While this dish typically requires peanuts, I feel like I've met more people with nut allergies than those who don't! To bulk up this dish, we'll be adding a variety of vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers for crunch and color.
If you want to add different nuts such as walnuts or pecans, just ensure to toast them before you start prepping and add them back in when you're adding the chicken back into the skillet at the end.
Ingredients for Kung Pao Chicken
Kung pao chicken is a just a lovely stir-fry of chicken and vegetables mixed with a delicious soy-based sauce. We'll add dried chilli peppers for a slight spicy kick. The Sichuan version of this dish also includes peppercorns, but I'm not a fan of the numbing effect so I've chosen to omit the ingredient.
- Chicken breast - you'll want to cube your chicken breast into bite-size pieces. Some people prefer to use chicken thigh, so its all up to preference
- Shaoxing wine - adds flavor to any meat
- Dark soy sauce
- Ground white pepper
Kung Pao Sauce
- Light soy sauce
- Dark soy sauce - add a beautiful color and deeper flavor
- Chinese black vinegar
- Sugar - balances the soy sauce and vinegars
- Cornstarch + water - helps to thicken the sauce
Vegetables and Fragrants
- Chilli broad bean sauce (doubanjiang)
- Dried chilli peppers (halved and deseeded)
- Scallions (chopped)
- Garlic (diced)
- Carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers
Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Instructions:
- Cube chicken breast into bite-size pieces. Marinate with Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine), soy sauce, salt, white pepper, and cornstarch. Let sit and prepare your sauce and vegetables
- Make sauce by mixing light and dark soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, water, and cornstarch.
- Prepare the rest of your ingredients
- Heat up oil in skillet and sauté the chicken until done. Make sure to flip so you're searing both sides. When done, set aside in a separate bowl.
- Add more oil to the skillet and sauté the garlic, chilli peppers, and scallions. Add the chilli broad bean sauce and cook until the sauce releases its natural oils
- Stir-fry the carrots first as they are harder in texture. After about a minute or so, add in your cucumbers and bell peppers. Cook for another minute or so.
- Add your chicken back in and pour in the sauce and coat the skillet evenly. Let is simmer so the sauce starts to thicken.
- Serve over rice!
Looking for more Chinese stir-fry dishes?
Kung Pao Chicken (No Peanuts)
- 16 oz chicken breast cubed
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Kung Pao Sauce
- 3 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoon water
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon chilli broad bean sauce (doubanjiang)
- 4 dried chilli peppers halved and deseeded
- 3 stalks scallions chopped
- 3 cloves garlic diced
- ½ carrot diced
- ½ cucumber diced
- ¼ bell pepper (you can use red or green)
- Cube your chicken breast and marinate with Shaoxing wine, salt, ground white pepper, dark soy sauce, and cornstarch. Let sit for 20 minutes and prep your vegetables
- Prepare your sauce by mixing light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese vinegar, sugar, water, and cornstarch.
- Chop and dice your carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers.
- Heat up 2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet and stir-fry your chicken breast until cooked. Set aside in another bowl.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet and add in garlic, scallions, dried chillis, and the chilli broad bean sauce. Sauté until the broad bean sauce starts to release its fragrance, about 1 minute.
- Add in your carrots first, sauté for a minute, then add in your cucumber and bell peppers for another minute.
- Add the cooked chicken back in and pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables in your skillet and coat evenly.
- Let the sauce simmer until it thickens.
- Serve over rice.