KUNG PAO CHICKEN
2 chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic
1 stalk green onion
1 tablespoon soy sauce (2 more tablespoons later)
1½ tablespoons cornstarch (1 teaspoon more later)
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon Poultry MagicTM spice (¼ teaspoon more later)
2 teaspoons rice wine
1½ tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
¼ teaspoon Poultry MagicTM spice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 red chiles
½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
wok or skillet
Serves 4. Takes 50 minutes.
PREPARATION OF MARINADE
Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes. Mince garlic. Dice green onion. Mix 1½ tablespoons cornstarch, garlic, green onion, ginger, ¼ teaspoon poultry spice, rice wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and water. Cover all sides of the chicken cubes with this mixture. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
PREPARATION OF SAUCE
Combine 1 teaspoon cornstarch, malt vinegar, ¼ teaspoon poultry spice, salt, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil in 2nd mixing bowl. Set aside.
Cut red chiles in half, remove seed, and mince (I cannot say strongly enough, WEAR GLOVES OR WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY WITH SOAP after touching the chiles and their seeds. They make your skin burn. My gosh, they cause pain. Don’t rub a throbbing temple or wipe sweat from your upper lip immediately after touching red chiles and their seeds. Your face will be on fire. And guy chefs, this is a really bad time to scratch your balls.)
Put unsalted peanuts and 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil in wok. Sauté at 350 degrees until peanuts start turning golden brown. Stir frequently. (The golden brown phase is astonishingly short. The following dark brown/black state is forever.)
Add the coated chicken cubes. Sauté at 350 degrees. Fry for 2 minutes or until chicken is done or no longer pink inside. Stir and turn cubes frequently.
Add red chiles and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Sauté at 350 degrees and stir until the peppers turn dark. Add soy/malt vinegar/sugar/sesame oil sauce. Cook until sauce thickens. Stir frequently.
Thank the person who washes and cleans after this meal. If you are both the cook and cleaner, sit down, have a cold root beer, and admire the halo above your head.
1) If all strange dishes taste like chicken, why not have chicken?
2) Kung Pao chickens are much milder than their more peppery cousins, Kung Fu Chickens.
3) Peppers that look similar to each other can vary greatly in spiciness. So, keep that in mind when you and a bunch of friends from Madison, Wisconsin travel to St. Louis, Missouri to see two classmates get married and you all stop in a restaurant that serves free peppers.
4) Throat germs don’t like peppers either. Hah, take that!
5) Some people think that cuisine near the Equator is filled with peppery dishes because food didn’t keep well there before refrigeration. I think people in Cuba eat more peppers than the Swedes because peppers are grown in Cuba and not in Sweden.
Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.