Search This Blog

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

My love for Sichuan food sent me on a Google search for cookbooks that could broaden my, shall we say, repertoire.  It was only then that I discovered Fuchsia Dunlop, who is very much considered to be the authority on Sichuan cooking, well in the Western world anyway.  She has penned a few books on the subject, having studied the culinary art in the Sichuan province - and she is quite the expert.  
I finally received my copy of Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty in the mail (It took a while getting here from the UK).  It's not your regular glossy cookbook, however.  Rather, it is quite reminiscent of a high school text book.  Lots of black and white pages and very few pictures - the kind you would scribble doodles on during those classes when boredom struck.  The first eighty or so pages are made up of a lengthy introduction and then a walk through the cutting techniques and ingredients in a typical Sichuanese pantry. To say the least, I have been so engrossed in reading the book that I figured it was time to try a recipe.
Kung Pao or Gung Bao Chicken is a dish I only discovered by chance at an impromptu take away fix a couple of years ago.  I have been making the dish ever since and absolutely love it.  The flavours of the soy and rice wine in the dish meld together in a smoky aromatic finish that fills the air well before the liquid hits the wok.  As with most Chinese cuisine, the preparation stage is always the most time consuming.  But the reward is far greater than the time spent - well for me anyways!  
Ingredients, serves 6
6 x Chicken Thigh Fillets, cut into 1cm cubes
6 x Garlic cloves, finely sliced
2" piece x Ginger, finely sliced
10 x Spring onions (scallions), white parts only cut into 1" lengths
2 tbsp x Peanut Oil
12 x Dried Chilli, snip in half and discard seeds
2 tsp x Sichuan Pepper
2 handfuls x Peanuts or Cashews, roasted 
1 tsp x Salt
4 tsp x Light Soy sauce
2 tsp x Shaoxing wine
3 tsp x Cornflour
2 tbsp x Water
6 tsp x Sugar
5 tsp x Cornflour
2 tsp x Dark Soy sauce
2 tsp x Light Soy sauce
6 tsp x Chinese Black Vinegar 
2 tsp x Sesame Oil
2-4 Tbsp of Water, as required
Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl and toss through the cubed chicken pieces
Marinate for at least 1 hour
Place all sauce ingredients into a pouring jug and stir to combine
Heat the oil in the wok until it is just about to start smoking
Add the halved and deseeded chilli and Sichuan pepper and stir fry for 30 seconds
Tip in the marinating chicken and stir fry for about 5 minutes
Now stir in the spring onion, ginger and garlic and stir fry for another 5 minutes

Pour in the combined sauce ingredients

Stir through for two minutes, taste and adjust salt if required
When the sauce thickens slightly add the peanuts or cashews 

 Stir through for a minute 

 Remove from wok an place in a serving dish

 A dish as flavoursome as Kung Pao chicken can only be complimented with a bowl of Jasmine rice....ahhh delicious!

No comments: