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The USDA no longer requires Sichuan peppercorns to be heat treated. It is worth seeking out some that have not been treated as the flavor is far superior. I have found them online.
I cannot do alcohol. Is there a sub for the sherry/rice wine ?
Also, will skipping the marinating make a big difference in the result?
I don’t really have a substitute for the alcohol, but the small amount mostly cooks out. I think you’ll be fine without, though, if that’s how you prefer to proceed. As for the marinating, yes, it makes a substantial difference in the moistness, flavor and texture of the cooked chicken.
Eric, you might also try apple juice as a substitute. It won’t be quite the same flavor, but it would work in a pinch!
My husband and I spent three months traveling in China last year. With the help of an iPhone application called China Menu (http://chinabites.com/iphone/pressrelease/), we frequently ordered Kung Pao Chicken. Since returning, we’ve tried the dish at several restaurants and it has always seemed a little off. This recipe is fantastic! We just made it with the peppercorns. We like our food spicy, and it was perfect. The best Kung Pao we’ve had in the U.S. Thanks.
Delish and doable as always. I used cooked chicken and I only had to buy the fresh ginger – great meal!
Great recipe! I live in China and Kung Pao chicken is one of my favorite dishes. This recipe looks pretty authentic. I prefer to use ground Sichuan peppercorns though, as the whole ones are quite overwhelming if you happen to get a few in one bite. One question about the ChinKiang vinegar – is that black vinegar, red, or just plain white rice vinegar…or something else entirely?
ChinKiang is a black vinegar. ~Garrett
This Kung Pao recipe was great. Wonderful flavors–and not at all gloppy like some Kung Pao can be. Also, you’re right, the Sichuan peppercorns do add something.
I have fond memories of eating Kung Po chicken in Nigeria in the nineteen eighties — the only dish in the hotel’s Chinese restaurant that was any good. Probably because chicken, peanuts and hot peppers are Nigerian staples, and there were no vegetables to go soggy. But I just made your version, and it was MUCH better. Thank you for improving on my memories.
Is there a substitute for the corn starch?
Potato starch. ~Garrett
Hi! I made this last night and I have to say I was disapointed. The marinade had great flavor and the sauce had great flavor, but together it didn’t taste quite right. It was a little bitter. Too much ginger maybe? I’ve had the peppercorns forever. Do they get old? Oh well. We still ate it!
It’s a great recipe. This Kung Pao Chicken is our family’s all time favourite chinese dish. I cook it very often in summer because it goes really well with steamed rice. When it comes to cooking this dish, the Szechwan peppercorn seem not to be very essential, but the dried chili pepper is a must. The crunchy peanuts always become the focal point of my enjoyment, adding more texture into the dish. Very often, I’d pick all the peanuts to eat first.
Made this tonight, but without the Szechwan peppercorns. I couldn’t wait to make this dish so I tried it without, although I will be ordering them and make it again! But even without them, my family and I ate this up! The kids loved it (I made some without any heat at all, just the marinade and sauce for them) and the flavor was spectacular both ways. Can’t wait to try it with the peppercorns. Thanks for the awesome recipe that is going in my permanent file!
Hate to keep bothering you, but now know why it had no heat. Read the last comment asking about the peppers, and you said to use dry peppers. We used fresh peppers. Will try it again with the dried peppers!!! It will surely be hotter, I am positive. You may correct my original message. Thanks, Chuck.
Kung Pao Chicken was one of our favorite dishes when we lived in China (Shaoxing, coincidently. The rice wine factories were very interesting), although we never actually ate it in Sichuan. Anyway, this looks like a very authentic, easy recipe. Thank you!
What a wonderful recipe! I read it to my wife this AM. We bought the ingredients today, and prepared it for dinner tonight. It was great! On a scale of 1 to 10, we rated it a 10. Only comment would be that it didn’t seem as hot as you indicated, but then again, my wife and I like hot. It was warm in our opinion. Good job. Enjoyed it very much. Bring us more! Chuck
This looks great. I think I may make it tonight. Can I ask one question, though? Are the chili peppers the dried ones or fresh? There is such an assortment at our market, I don’t want to buy the wrong kind. Thanks.
Dried. Thank you for asking! ~Garrett
Looks great, one question: toasted or plain sesame oil? Thanks.
Any high heat sesame oil should be fine, though more often than not that will mean untoasted/cold pressed. ~Garrett
Hello. I’ve seen this recipe before and have made it also, but the question I have is about the Szechwan peppercorns. Is it better to grind them up, because when I made this in the past the peppercorns were very hard and bitter and change the flavor of the kung pao? I like the kung pao recipes that don’t use hoisen or plum sauce. The soy based sauce is more traditional.
Good question, Jesse. In this recipe use them whole so they deliver a more pronounced, singular flavor when you get a bite of one. Furthermore, since they cook in the oil a bit some of their flavor is evenly distributed throughout the dish. ~Garrett
I always enjoy your posts on Chinese food. The almond cookies recipe was very popular at the dinner parties!
For Kung Pao Chicken, I think adding some diced celery gives a nice flavor. And my family just LOVES spicy dishes, we keep the seeds in!
For this dish I wouldn’t keep the seeds in, especially if you use Tien Tsin chilies. They are almost up there with scotch bonnets and if you use eight of them with the seeds the dish will be inedible. ~Garrett
Looks yum! Is Shaoxing rice wine the same thing as Mirin?
No. Shaoxing is more like sherry. ~Garrett
Of necessity we are a peanut-free household. Is there a tree nut that could replace the peanuts without changing the final dish too much?
Cashews are an option. You can also switch the chicken out for pork, beef, shrimp or even firm tofu if you wish. ~Garrett