When you go to a Chinese take-out place, you can't miss Kung pao chicken. It's almost a representative of Chinese food in American people's mind. Of course, the American version! As a Chinese, I simply can't appreciate how this dish is like in American Chinese restaurants. Well, I am not arguing that it shouldn't be changed in other countries to cater to the local taste. On the contrary, it makes perfect sense to do so, but it just doesn't fit my memory. My hometown is Chengdu, the capital city of the southwest Sichuan (Szechuan) Province of China, also the paradise of hot and spicy food.Yah!! Maybe you have heard of Sichuan pepper, Sichuan sauce, or sichuan style this or that. That's right, I am from there; so is Kung Pao chicken. The name came from a government official with the rank of Kung Pao, who invented this chicken dish during his term of office in Sichuan，in Qing Dynasty.
Ingredients: chicken thigh or tenderloin, roasted or fried peanuts, cooking wine, oil, salt, sugar, vinegar, dry red chili pepper, green onion, ginger, garlic, starch or cornstarch (this is the secret to make thick sauce), Sichuan pepper, sesame oil
1. Dice a packet of chicken into small cubes.
2. Put the diced chicken into a bowl and add one teaspoon of salt, two tablespoon of soy sauce and some starch or cornstarch to marinate for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cut the red pepper into 2cm long. Peel off 3 cloves of garlic and slice them. Slice about 5 pieces of the ginger. Wash and chop two green onions into 1cm long pieces.
4. Take a small container, add 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 2 tablespoon of cooking wine, and 1 tablespoon of starch, mix well.
5. Add some cooking oil into the wok, heat it with high fire. Add dry red pepper and prickly ashes, until you see the red pepper turns darker( in order not to burn the pepper, you should not make the oil too hot), then immediately add chicken and stir fry it , then add sliced ginger, garlic and chopped green onion. Keep stir frying until you see the meat becomes white.
6. Mix the mixed ingredients again(coz starch precipitates) , and pour them into the wok and keep stir frying till all chicken is covered with the sauce. Turn down the stove to medium after it starts to boil. Since starch is added, the sauce will become thick soon.
7. Turn off the heat when the sauce is thick enough, and add peanuts, mix them with the chicken thoroughly.
Note: all the amounts of the ingredients I mentioned above are estimates. Chinese cuisine doesn't measure by measuring tools, but mostly by personal preference and experience,so if you don’t like the flavor, you can adjust the ingredients amount as you like.